Aged care alliance calls on both sides of government to address service shortfall

May 22, 2016

An alliance of 48 aged care consumers, providers and staff groups say both major parties need to promise to address the shortfall in residential places and home care services.

Key points:

  • Productivity Commission figures show 40 pc of people wait more than three months for home care or permanent residential placement

  • Aged care alliance calling for caps on residential places lifted, restrictions on providers relaxed

  • Wants both sides of government to commit to aged care roadmap


The National Aged Care Alliance says it is launching a campaign because both the Coalition and Labor have so far been silent on the care needs of older Australians.

"Too often in elections older Australians don't get the priority that they should," Council on the Ageing (COTA) chief executive Ian Yates said.

"We have had elections in the near past when neither party actually issued an aged care policy, so we are asking the parties to be much more explicit with the Australian people about what we're doing for the care of older Australians, much earlier in the campaign."

The alliance said figures from the Productivity Commission showed over 40 per cent of people eligible for some form of home care waited more than three months to receive the service.

The figure is about the same for Australians who wait more than three months for a permanent residential place in an aged care facility.

The body representing not-for-profit providers, Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA), said too many people were missing out.

"If you need a health service through Medicare, you receive a service," ACSA president Paul Sadler said.

"In aged care at the moment that's not guaranteed, there's a cap on the number of places a cap on the dollars that are available for aged care."

'Relaxed restrictions on providers would increase quality'

Australia's aged care system is part-way through a 10-year process of change, that has the broad support of both major parties.

A government advisory committee has also set out a roadmap, and the alliance is looking for both parties to commit to the next phase.

"We need both sides of politics to explicitly commit to that roadmap over the next five to seven years," Mr Sadler said.

The alliance wants the current ratio or caps on residential places and care packages gradually lifted, and restrictions on providers also relaxed to increase competition and quality in the aged care market.

COTA said that would not necessarily mean a much bigger strain on the federal budget.

"Many people actually go into residential care, which is very expensive, just because high care packages aren't available in the community," Mr Yates said.

"What we need to do is sit down and make a plan to do this, we can't do it overnight, but it's not clear that it'll cost a great deal more."

This year's federal budget did include a $1.2 billion saving by reassessing the Government's funding formula for aged care providers.

The Government said the measure would address higher-than-expected growth in the cost of the payments.

But ACSA said it was worried the changes would hurt vulnerable residents the most.

"This is the third adjustment to the aged care funding instrument since 2012," Mr Sadler said.

"We really need stability in the way aged care is funded and that's what we're calling for."



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