A deal between stakeholders about service and funding expectations, aged care treated as a necessary part of ageing and a non-political approach to accessing consumer wealth are among strategies needed to ensure the sector’s viability.
That’s according to industry leaders and representatives who discussed the royal commission and sector issues at Health Metrics 2019 World Conference in Melbourne last Thursday.
Panel members discussed key strategies needed to ensure viability of the sector in the current environment that includes the royal commission and its possible outcomes, the ageing population, declining profitability for providers and the public’s poor perception of aged care.
CEO of aged care peak Leading Age Services Australia, Sean Rooney said a social compact between the community, government and the industry that clearly sets the expectations and commitments from all the parties must be part of the solution.
“That compact would say things like the community expects this level of service, the government would fund that level of service and the industry will deliver that level of service.
“And the government can’t change how much they want to fund overnight without any consultation,” Mr Rooney told delegates.
Elsewhere during the discussion Mr Rooney reiterated calls for funding now, not after the royal commission reports its findings.
He called for an additional $3 billion to improve the viability of the residential aged care sector and cap the wait time for a home care package at three months.
“If you want to bring stability to residential aged care back to the level of financial performance across the industry prior to the ACFI changes in 2016, we need $1.3 to $1.5 billion over the next 18 months,” Mr Rooney said.
He said LASA believed it was appropriate and necessary to limit the wait time for a package for someone assessed as requiring care in the home to 90 days.
“In order to realise that over a three year period – we think it will take three years to get to that – about half a billion dollars a year” is needed.
The residential #aged care sector needs an additional $1.3-$1.5B over 18 months to plug funding holes & home care needs $1.5M over three years to deliver enough packages so wait times are capped at three months, @LASANational CEO Sean Rooney tells #HealthMetrics2019
— Australian Ageing Agenda (@AustAgeAgenda) August 29, 2019
‘Necessary part of the fabric’
Fellow panellist Norah Barlow, who is CEO of New Zealand aged care provider Heritage Lifecare NZ, said aged care needed to be seen as a normal part of life rather than a burden on government funds.
“I would like to see aged care treated as a necessary part of the fabric of what we do as part of ageing and not treated as a taker from the public purse,” said Ms Barlow, a non-executive director and former managing director of Australian listed provider Estia Health.
Aged care should be treated as part of the long line of services to care for people, the same way a doctor is treated as a respected professional, not a taker, Ms Barlow said.
If we saw aged care like that then it would be easily funded, she said.
“The for-profits get tainted with that as if you are taking the money but in actual fact it is the capital being circulated and as long as people understand that then I will be happy.”
Non-political approach needed
The CEO of aged care software company Health Metrics, Steven Strange, called for a non-political approach to discussions and measures to access older people’s wealth.
“I would like to see the government not politicise what we call tapping into people’s estate. Don’t politicise it or call it a death tax.
“It’s the stuff we need to fund the industry and with that funding, the bankers come back to the table and the likes of bigger and smaller groups are suddenly affording the cool technology,” Mr Strange told the conference.
Referring to the concept as a death tax or similar would kill the opportunity for the sector to be able to afford to do things more efficiently, he said.
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