The Aged Care Royal Commission has brought attention to the urgent need for change. There are issues with funding caps, quality of care and minimum staffing ratios. Research by Leading Aged Services Australia (LASA) has found that older Australians are receiving thousands of dollars less per year than those with similar physical impairments on the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
The research found that there was a disparity between low-level care. People receiving aged care through the Commonwealth Home Support Programme got around 80 per cent less funding than NDIS. LASA’s CEO, Sean Rooney, said he wasn’t suggesting the NDIS recipients were receiving too much money. He said they were given the appropriate care and support, as opposed to the aged care system’s level of support.
LASA gave several examples showing differences in yearly payouts based on people with similar conditions. One example was of a 68-year-old on NDIS and a 72-year-old on Home Care Package. There was approximately $120,000 per year difference in payments.
Furthermore, this difference may result from NDIS support given on a relatively uncapped, needs basis. But, aged care recipients fall into a category. That category will have a cap on funding based on assessable needs. Reform can’t wait. Above all, these caps impact on the quality of care and support services for aged care recipients.
The Council on the Ageing (COTA) and other peak bodies issued a statement recently. The joint bodies identified key urgent reforms that the government needs to put in place. This was in response to the Aged Care Royal Commission. In addition, these 12 peak bodies want the reforms included in the next federal budget. Some of these reforms include minimum staffing numbers in aged care.
The aged care system is a long way from the NDIS system. This was clear in the Aged Care Royal Commission findings. The final report found that the current system is ‘unacceptable’ and ‘unsustainable’. John McCallum, CEO of National Seniors Australia said that much can be done over the next year. This is to give older Australians self-determination. He said it’s to hold aged care providers accountable for failure to deliver quality care.
LASA’s research found that approximately 1.3 million older Australians were accessing government funded aged care services. The NDIS had only 400,000 participants in 2020. It found that people receiving CHSP would likely be at a moderate level of support under the NDIS. CHSP is the absolute lowest level of government funded aged care (2 stages below moderate). So people with similar needs were receiving a higher classification under NDIS.
Final thoughts surround the need for immediate change to the government funded aged care system in Australia. The aged care Royal Commission must result in necessary changes for our most vulnerable Australians.
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