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Aged care report ‘on the mark’

Wednesday, 10th August, 2011

GOOD IDEAS: Southern Cross Care Broken Hill Chief Executive Allan Carter said changes to aged care were due and the new report had some sensible recommendations. GOOD IDEAS: Southern Cross Care Broken Hill Chief Executive Allan Carter said changes to aged care were due and the new report had some sensible recommendations.

The head of the city’s largest aged care provider has welcomed the Productivity Commission’s recommendations for an overhaul of the industry.

Southern Cross Care Broken Hill Chief Executive, Allan Carter, said the recommendations recognised that a “one size fits all” model of service delivery does not work.

The report, “Caring for Older Australians” was released on Monday. 

Under the proposal being considered by the federal government there would be separate charges for care and accommodation.

It also suggests “progressively” deregulating the number of care packages provided in the community and the supply of hostel and nursing home beds. 

“Older people would be ale to choose the standard of accommodation that they want and could afford, just as they have done when living in the community,” the report states.

While he had not yet read the entire report, Mr Carter’s initial reaction to its recommendations was “positive.”

“It’s showing the time has come for reform in aged care and I think that is great,” he said yesterday.

“It’s recognising a lot of the big issues and it is a definite message to the Government that the time has come for a major shake up of aged care.”

Mr Carter said the recommendations appeared to advocate greater user choice.

“In principle, it’s not a bad thing,” Mr Carter said.

He said he wanted to determine an understanding of the link between the availability of a bed and how the recurrent funding would be controlled under the recommendations.

“In a market environment I would need to understand how the allocation of recurrent funding would be controlled to see if there was a business case for building a new bed.

“It wouldn’t be open slather - there would have to be mechanisms around controlling the funding.”

Mr Carter said the report also acknowledged that the cost of providing services was different in country areas.

“The current model of one size fits all doesn’t work.

“Doing business in the bush is more expensive than in the city.”

Mr Carter also welcomed the push to reduce the wage difference between the acute and aged care sectors.

“(There’s) a recognition we’ve got to do something about the disparity in wages in our workforce.

“Overall I think there are some positives.”

The overhaul would include separate charges for care and accommodation. While people might be paying more for accommodation costs, there’s expected to be a limit on how much they could be asked to pay for care. 

A safety net would protect those who couldn’t pay, with providers obliged to provide a set number of government-supported places. 

Mr Carter said there will always be a need for support for lower income and asset levels for residents. 

“It is essential that any changes ensure that aged care will remain available to everyone and that people will not be priced out of the market.” 

Older people would make a co-contribution to their care according to their means, worth up to 25 per cent of the total cost. The Government would pick up the rest. 

But there would be a lifetime limit for everyone; the commission suggests $60,000. 

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