Many members of the community have said that they have found navigating the new aged care reforms and the My Aged Care website a challenge.
In February this year, when the Home Packages Reforms came into effect where the health department released more than 22,000 packages to people who were eligible.
Essentially, Consumer Directed Care was introduced with a promise promised more choice and control to the consumers who were using home care services. But many found that that was not the case.
Due to consumer feedback, the Government have announced major initiatives in home care services and improved access to the My Aged Care system.
One of the biggest changes is the additional 6,000 home care packages that will be made available to support more older Australians with higher care needs to remain living in their own homes.
The My Aged Care information system is also getting a revamp, with a $20 million investment to support for aged care consumers and improve public access – especially for rural, regional and remote clients
Information from the new national home care priority queue is now also available to consumers, developed as part of February 2017 Increasing Choice in Home Care reforms.
Under the reforms, home care packages are released to consumers who have the most urgent needs or have been waiting the longest, for Level 1, 2, 3 and 4 packages.
For the first time, the queue system provides clarity for consumers, while also allowing the Government to track demand for home care and adjust supply where required, to ensure older Australians get the care they need.
It should be noted that the original ratios of Level 1, 2, 3 and 4 home care packages were set by the then Labor government, under the Living Longer Living Better initiative.
Now, a substantial number of people have been identified as waiting for the higher level 3 and 4 care, many of whom faced uncertainty under the old arrangements.
The Legislated Review of Aged Care 2017, led by David Tune AO, PSM, examined the effectiveness of the aged care reforms enacted by the previous Labor Government through the 2012 Living Longer Living Better package and his report includes 38 recommendations for future aged care provision.
Though Government welcomes the review which was required under legislation and will consider the recommendations, there are some in particular that they do not support.
The Government will not include the full value of the owner’s home in the means test for residential care, nor remove the annual and lifetime caps on means-tested fees.
As the recommendations are worked through, one of the primary considerations will also be to ensure improved aged care services to allow older Australians to continue living in regional, rural and remote areas.
The Government will consider the Tune Review’s findings and recommendations, in the context of work underway by a taskforce in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, examining ageing more broadly.
The Productivity Commission recently forecast Australia will need almost one million aged care staff by 2050, a skilled workforce is essential to support quality care and continuing reform.
A detailed aged care workforce strategy will be produced by a taskforce, to be chaired by Professor John Pollaers, supported by a $2 million 2017-18 Budget commitment.
The Government’s work on aged care reform will ensure that older people have the aged care support and services they need, when and where they need it.
These new changes are “focussed on maintaining a high-quality, people-centred aged care system that provides older Australians with choice and control of their care and is affordable and sustainable for consumers, taxpayers and care providers”.
The Turnbull Government has allocated a record $18.6 billion for aged care in 2017-18, the first part of a $100 billion investment in aged care support planned for the next five years.
This includes $5.5 billion to extend the Commonwealth Home Support Program until 2020, to provide services including Meals On Wheels, transport, personal assistance and home maintenance, and $2 million for an industry led taskforce to develop an aged care workforce strategy.
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