Australian and New Zealand aged care service provider, Ryman Healthcare, has chimed in on how the country’s aged care sector could improve, suggesting a continuum of care model should be adopted into our national aged care policy.
The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety confirmed Australia’s aged care industry is not fit for purpose, and Ryman believes the continuum of care model that is operating in New Zealand would address Australia’s aged care system issues.
“Continuum of Care is but one model that offers a tried and tested solution to support the delivery of the Australian Government’s aged care reform agenda, with proven long-term financial sustainability,” Ryman Healthcare wrote in the discussion paper.
“Continuum of care is a win-win for [the] Government, the aged care sector and, most importantly, senior Australians.”
The model was introduced to Australia by Ryman Healthcare, and is said to deliver quality retirement living options including serviced apartments, home care services and aged care facilities which allow residents and their partners to remain in the same village while meeting their care needs as they change over time.
“While it is not directly subsidised, its costs are offset by the efficiencies provided through the sharing of fixed costs via the co-location of retirement living, serviced apartments and home care,” Ryman Healthcare wrote.
“These include shared facilities, care staff, property maintenance and operational expenses.”
The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety found Australia’s current system is both unprofitable and underfunded, with the latest data from chartered accountacy firm, StewartBrown, finding that 64% of providers are operating at a loss.
From the Royal Commission findings, changes have been made to improve the state of the sector, but some changes may be creating more burdens for the under-funded and under-staffed industry.
Ryman Healthcare said the continuum of care model relied on diversifying where revenue came from for long-term financial sustainability and allowed much lower reliance on Government funding.
Further changes under this model would ensure all aged care workers obtained a Certificate III in Individual Support, aged care wards would be managed by experienced nurses, and States and Territories would be synchronised in line with Federal Government standards to standardise regulations across the country.
New Zealand High Commissioner to Australia, Dame Annette King, said that New Zealand and Australia have often shared knowledge to improve outcomes for communities, and this should be the same for aged care in Australia.
“The continuum of care model – widely used in New Zealand but only in its infancy in Australia – offers a strong basis on which to address two key issues facing the aged care sector: financial viability and, most importantly, improving the quality of care delivered to residents,” said Dame King.