Home care in Australia is in desperate need of an overhaul

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In a newly released Position Paper, NARI analyses the Federal Government’s responses to key recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety in relation to home care, and identifies where more could be done.

“The Royal Commission highlighted that older Australians want to remain at home, but the current aged care system is not providing adequate access to services and supports to help them remain at home,” Associate Professor Frances Batchelor, Director of Clinical Gerontology at NARI, says.

NARI says the aged care system should be needs-based, not rationed, similar to the way in which the health care system works.

“Funding should be linked to individual needs and care planning. Under the current model, bundled funding is allocated to a limited number of older people in need. This model lacks flexibility and is not truly tied to the unique needs of each older person.”

“Funding needs to be better distributed so it is allocated in a more cost-effective way, to ensure every person in need of care at home is able to receive it, when they need it.”

NARI also supports the introduction of a more streamlined, effective and flexible process of needs assessment that improves the experience of older people and their families when accessing aged care services.

“There is particular need for flexible assessment processes and funding allocation based on individual needs,” Associate Professor Batchelor says.

Based on its research and experience in the aged care sector, NARI says systemic – rather than incremental reform – of the home care system, is crucial, including:

  • Transition to a needs-based system of funding and delivering home care services where older people do not need to wait to access the care that they need;
  • Funding that is personalised, flexible, and closely aligned with the individual needs of each older person (under a model that takes the form of individualised budgets or case-mix classification);
  • The introduction of a more streamlined flexible process of needs assessment to improve the experience of older people accessing home care services; and
  • Mechanisms that assist all older people to navigate and access the home care system and make informed choices, including the introduction of a network of care finders and improved quality regulation measures such as Star Ratings.

“We welcome the Government’s funding of 80,000 additional home care packages over the next two years, however, for as long as current model stays in place, older Australians will continue to wait long periods of time to access home care,” Associate Professor Batchelor says.

NARI’s Position Paper ‘Transforming the system of home care for older Australians’ is available at www.nari.net.au/position-paper-transforming-the-system-of-home-care-for-older-australians.

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  1. After reading the above, I am wondering what model of Home Care NARI have researched. Having worked in the front line of Home and Community care for 8 years plus as a PCA, Case Manager, Care Supervisor, Care Manager and Director of a Home Care/Disability provider, I can honestly say that 100% of our elderly care recipients have an extensive care plan and budget raised. Care is an ever moving plan for each client, as care needs can change daily. They all have personalised care that is completely flexible, they have access to their Care Managers or directly to our CEO or myself during and after hours and have access to allied health and home care services as required.
    The Home Care system as it stands is not perfect, but is consumer directed and works far better than the disability sector.

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