|Aged Care Reform|
13 March 2013
The Australian Government has embarked on a 10-year process to reform the aged care system. The reforms aim to build an integrated system of supports that offer more choice and control to older people, have a greater emphasis on restorative and preventative care, and that address the needs of the ageing population.
As part of the National Health Reforms, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) agreed to transfer all funding and operational responsibility for support services for non-Aboriginal people over the age of 65, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over the age of 50, to the Commonwealth Government. The Government referred the issue to the Productivity Commission for a public inquiry, and to make recommendations about redesigning the aged care system in Australia. After extensive consultation, the Productivity Commission released its final report and recommendations in August 2011. In April 2012 the Government announced its reform package, Living Longer, Living Better.
Home and Community Care (HACC)
HACC services will not experience any significant changes until 1 July 2015. After 1 July 2015, HACC services will be absorbed into the Home Support Program, along with the National Respite for Carers program, Assistance with Care and Housing for the Aged, and Day Therapy Centres. HACC service types, planning regions and unit pricing will be reviewed, and a new national fees policy will be introduced. Some clients will be moved to Level A packaged community care. Assessment processes will be reviewed, with a view to aligning assessment processes within Home Support Program services and Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT) assessment processes.
Packaged community care
The number of community care packages (to be called Home Care packages from 2013) – Community Aged Care Packages (CACPs), Extended Aged Care at Home (EACH) and Extended Aged Care at Home – Dementia (EACH-D) packages will increase. Two new types of package will be introduced from 1 July 2013: one level below CACP, and one between CACP and EACH. A new Dementia Supplement will be introduced, available to all package levels. Funding changes and means testing will mean that consumers will pay more in fees, depending on their level of income. Packaged community care will be delivered on the basis of Consumer-Directed Care (CDC), which will allow consumers greater choice and control over their supports.
There are a range of reforms in store for residential care, including:
Support for carers
Funding for respite and carer services will increase, with the potential for the amalgamation of all respite programs into a single program from 2014, with more flexible models and standardised assessment processes. $11 million over 5 years has been allocated for establishing Carer Support Centres, which can broker emergency respite and counselling, provide information, and make referrals.
Information, referral & assessment
An Australian Seniors Gateway Agency will be established to provide a one-stop-shop for information and referral for accessing aged care services. Initially only involving a website and call centre, after 2016 the Gateway may also conduct assessment for eligibility for services. A new national assessment framework will be developed. A new My Aged Care website will publish information and allow some self-service functions. A linking service will assist people with complex needs to access health, disability, housing, financial and other services.
A new Workforce Compact will be developed from 2012-13 that will deliver increased wages, and workforce development initiatives. The Compact will allow providers who sign it and have an Enterprise Agreement that delivers higher wages to workers to access a Conditional Adjustment Payment for extra funding to cover increased wages.
A new Aged Care Financing Authority will be set up to provide advice about pricing, and to approve accommodation charges. The Aged Care Quality Agency will replace the Aged Care Standards and Accreditation Agency as the body which monitors providers and confers accreditation. New quality indicators will be published to the My Aged Care website.
The Aged Care Financing Authority also conducted two consultations about subsidies in residential care:
1 July 2012
1 July 2011
Timeline for reforms