Review of aged care reforms gets underway with senior appointment

Stakeholders have welcomed the government’s long-awaited appointment of a top bureaucrat to lead the review of the Living Longer Living Better reforms, saying they are keen for the process to get started.

Yesterday Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care Ken Wyatt announced that David Tune, current chair of the Aged Care Sector Committee, had been appointed to lead the review.

David Tune

Mr Tune is a former secretary of the Department of Finance and has held senior positions in the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, and Treasury.

The review of the LLLB changes is tasked with evaluating the extent to which the 2012 reforms have addressed long-standing issues like access to services and quality of care.

It is also expected to inform the ongoing reforms to aged care, with the Commonwealth still to officially respond to the latest proposals put forward by the sector committee in its Aged Care Roadmap.

As Australian Ageing Agenda has reported, aged care providers have been encouraged to identify the key issues they want addressed in the LLLB review and to gather data as evidence to support their claims (read that story here).

Ian Yates

Welcoming Mr Tune’s appointment yesterday, Council on the Ageing said that timely delivery of the review was critical to addressing the significant challenges facing the sector.

“Mr Tune has chaired the Aged Care Sector Committee during the development of the Aged Care Roadmap by that committee and is well placed to ensure the review takes fully into account the opportunities that the roadmap represents,” said COTA chief executive Ian Yates.

The review was a vital step in the aged care reform process, providing the opportunity to advance a new framework for consumer driven, market-based, financially sustainable services, he said.

‘Major challenges’ to address

Cameron O’Reilly

The Aged Care Guild, the peak representing major for-profit aged care providers, said the sector had been awaiting the review’s commencement.

There were major challenges that the review needed to address, said CEO Cameron O’Reilly.

“The government has chosen to continuously make cuts to the Aged Care Funding Instrument resulting in volatility in the aged care sector at a time when it desperately needs certainty.

“If the vision the Productivity Commission put forward in 2011 of a higher quality more consumer-driven aged care sector is to be realised, private sector investment confidence will need to be enhanced through the Review process,” Mr O’Reilly said.

Leading Age Services Australia said the review provided the opportunity to reflect on how much progress has been made in addressing the challenges identified by the Productivity Commission.

“The review needs to tell us what is working, what is not, and what needs to change in order to meet the needs and expectations of our ageing population,” LASA chief executive officer Sean Rooney said.

Coincides with funding discussion

Aged & Community Services Australia also welcomed Mr Tune’s appointment, and noted the review was occurring at the same time as government was examining the residential care funding model.

“Co-ordination of both efforts will be important to ensure the best outcome with providers having the level of certainty they require to keep delivering quality services to older Australians,” said ACSA chief executive Pat Sparrow.

Rik Dawson

The Australian Physiotherapy Association this morning called on Mr Tune to begin a comprehensive overhaul of the Aged Care Funding Instrument saying the funding model was “broken” and allocated payments to ineffective practices while ignoring rehabilitation.

“Currently, residents at aged-care facilities can only choose between massage and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) treatments from a physiotherapist, no matter what their condition. Right now, we believe it pays more for providers to keep their clients dependent,” said Rik Dawson, APA chair of gerontology.

Mr Dawson said that as incoming head of the LLLB review, Mr Tune had a critical opportunity to cement the place of evidence-based therapy through appropriate funding models to promote the wellbeing of older Australians.

The review is due to be completed by August 2017.



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