AAA’s virtual panel of aged care spokespeople helped to shed some light on what they think is holding the sector back from a long awaited opportunity.
Here are their comments.
Threats to reform
“The reform process will be threatened if politicians refuse to work together to achieve it.
Australia’s ageing population and the service providers are at crucial points in history and all politicians have a responsibility to work together to ensure older Australians receive accessible and responsive services which are sustainable.”
“Two things: either getting the financial modelling wrong or having a ‘false’ trust in the capacity of the market to deliver services, care and accommodation in all settings.
We need a ‘market based’ model not a ‘free for all’ where the industry itself would be placed at risk.”
CEO of Aged Care Association Australia (ACAA), Rod Young
“I hope we don’t overly focus on the issues around funding, keeping in mind that safety nets are described in detail in the report. Assumptions about people’s willingness to pay for care, and the value proposition for them and their families should be allowed to evolve, with the government playing a regulatory role to avoid any attempts at scams, but still allowing the industry to develop new services.”
Australian general manger of Care Innovations, Dr George Margolis
“We’re worried that in a hung Parliament, some may oppose for opposition’s sake.
Doing nothing on aged care is not an option, and if the new financing options proposed by the Commission are not adopted, older people will miss out on services in the future.”
CEO of CHA, Martin Laverty
“Reform will be threatened potentially by a range of factors, some internal to the sector others external. What is important for nurses and assistants in nursing and the people they care for is that we continue to drive home to the Federal Government that aged care reform is not an optional extra but an integral part of the health and ageing for all Australians.”
Federal Secretary of Australian Nursing Federation, Lee Thomas
“Our current political balancing act could threaten this vital process, but I certainly hope not. I know that all aspects of the political spectrum are committed to ensuring that Australians have access to quality palliative care, and that they have true choice and flexibility regarding their use of aged care services. I hope that these underlying commitments will ensure true multipartisan support for the valuable reform that is needed.”
Palliative Care Australia CEO, Dr Yvonne Luxford
“The reform process may potentially be threatened by underestimating the complexity of building a financially viable industry for the long term, that can provide affordable care and services to older Australians in their homes or aged care homes.”
Aged & Community Care Victoria’s CEO, Gerard Mansour
“Institutionalised groups will lobby to protect their positions and attempt to dominate outcomes. The government may go weak at the knees and leave it as it is, depending on who looks good at election time. The existing bureaucrats may find it in their best interests to suggest a watering down of the proposals rather than a firming up.”
Tall Trees director, Phil Usher
• “If the PM does not keep her promise re: aged care reform
• if the Government pulls the report apart and cherry picks some reform aspects which won’t work well without the underlying framework proposed by the PC
• if the opposition ignores the process or ‘starts with a fresh slate’
• if the current global economic position continues to decline which creates a real risk that aged care reform will cease to be a priority for the government. “
Hynes Lawyers partner, Julie McStay
“A major threat to the reform process is the lack of political will to commit to the recommendations. This could occur with the current government only agreeing with a few recommendations which they see as politically acceptable or with the current Opposition opposing the reforms. We see the recommendations as “hand in glove”, and interdependent, so that accepting only a few will not really change anything.
“Also any delay in the process would be a major threat. The government has announced it will not respond to the final report until it has consulted with a number of groups and the general public. We do not oppose this consultation process but it must not delay the government’s response. Budget preparations for the next financial year will begin later this calendar year and the costings for these reforms need to be included, otherwise another year will pass before the reform process begins.
“Also it is essential that financial modelling occur as soon as possible to ensure that the recommended financial arrangements, such as periodic payments and tying bond payments to the cost of accommodation, will result in a viable aged care industry.”
CEO of Benetas, Sandra Hills
“We live in uncertain times in terms of political pressures and a minority Government. This means that the reforms can easily be sidetracked by partisan politics or a change in Government. We need bipartisan support for the reforms. Government needs to begin the process of carefully staged implementation of the reforms in the next budget.
“Another concern is that consumers will want more detail about the financial implications of the reforms and the changes in quality of services they can expect before they will show support for the reforms.”
Alzheimer’s Australia CEO, Glen Rees
“The key is action, and this needs to happen quickly. Every year that goes by means not enough social infrastructure is being delivered to meet growing demand. A failure to act will potentially pay forward a problem for future generations.”
CEO of Retirement Villages Association, Andrew Giles
“The political landscape is uncertain: the Gillard Government is dependent on the support of the Greens and Independents. There is also the need for the Opposition to support the reforms which to date they have done. The global economic outlook is gloomy particularly in the USA, UK and Europe. Here are major domestic policy initiatives all of which require significant funding: carbon tax, the proposed National Disability Insurance Scheme and of course Aged Care Reform. There is also the desire of the Government to bring the federal budget back into surplus by 2012-13.”
CEO of Aged and Community Services Australia, Patrick McClure AO
“A number of things could threaten it. Various interests could seek to politicise the report’s recommendations for reasons that have nothing to do with the future of aged care but suit their own competitive positioning. At this early stage that has thankfully not had a serious impact.
“Another threat is the potential for stakeholders within the aged care sector to push their own specific interests to the exclusion of the rest of the reform package. Or conversely, the refusal of some stakeholders to include the agenda of others in their advocacy for change.
“Hopefully an unexpected change of government would not be a threat as many on the Opposition frontbench recognise that the PC proposals are good public policy.”
CEO of COTA, Ian Yates
“The biggest threat will be an outcry over the user pays principles. It is really important that commentary is responsible and accurate, and that we recognise that there is a substantial safety net in place. I hope that most Australians will see it as a matter of social justice and intergenerational equity that we support the principle that those who can pay, do pay their fair share. At a time of global financial uncertainty, younger generations need to recognise that in order for them to escape a huge taxation burden, they cannot also expect their parent’s wealth to pass to them intact. It simply isn’t fair.”
General Manager (ageing) for the Benevolent Society, Barbara Squires
“Ill informed lobby groups. I have attended various senior network functions of late and it is absolutely amazing the level of misinformation that is out in the market place. “
“It’s too early to comment we need to allow time for the report to digest and continue the collaborative dialogue.”
CEO of SummitCare, Cynthia Payne