Community Care Report
Monday, 16th August 2004 at 1:08 pm
The Federal Government has released a Report it describes as the way forward streamlining community care and provide older Australians with better access to the home based care.
Federal Minister for Ageing Julie Bishop says the Australian Government is committed to implementing the actions recommended in the blueprint, The Way Forward, which will also involve working with the states and territories.
Bishop says recognising that the number of programs available and the differences between programs, could make it confusing for people trying to access the care they need, the Government established the Review of Community Care and released a discussion paper, A New Strategy for Community Care.
The Review included consultation with a reference committee, the aged care sector and peak bodies representing care recipients, which indicated strong support for reform.
The Government says the report provides the next step for a coordinated Australian, state and territory government effort to streamline community care, to provide easier access to care, a fairer system of care distribution, improved quality of care, reduced paperwork for service providers and improved coordination and continuity of care between related programs.
Greg Mundy, CEO of Aged and Community Care Australia (ACSA) has welcomed the release of The Way Forward: A New Strategy for Community Care Report saying it is a good broad statement of intent to reform Australia’s system of community care.
Mundy says the Report has identified the main issues facing community care, and the broad strategies needed to address and resolve them.
He says consultation with the sector will be essential to ensure effective translation of these strategies into on-the-ground delivery of services and the Government’s report does acknowledges this.
He says there is a pleasing commitment to a partnership approach to reform. But this will, critically, require cooperation from State and Territory Governments to be achieved.
Mundy pointed out there were no new dollars promised in the Report or Minister’s statement, apart from the 2004-05 Budget funding for community care.
Over the next two decades, the population over the age of 65 will increase both numerically and structurally. By 2040, 25 per cent of the population will be over 65 with over 1 million people over the age of 85.
The Government says that a consistent approach toward program administration will be adopted in the following areas:
• Assessment for need and eligibility.
• Access to services.
• Eligibility criteria.
• A common approach to determining consumer fees.
• Quality Assurance.
• Information management and data collection.
Here are some details from the Report overview:
There will be easily identifiable access to assistance that will help people to understand what support is available to them. A single 1800 number will be available to connect the person or their carer with a trained worker who can tell them, over the phone, if they are eligible for government subsidised community care services and which service type will best meet their needs.
Access to similar services will be based on a consistent approach to assessing need across all regions of Australia. Consistent eligibility criteria will be developed to support this process, making for a more transparent system for consumers.
A consistent approach to determining consumer fees across programs will also mean a fairer system.
Relevant personal information that does not change will only need to be given once. A more integrated community care system will have streamlined information flows so that the person in need of support is only required to give personal information once to help determine their eligibility.
Relevant information about a person will be collected in a standard format at the point of entry to the system, such as a Commonwealth Carelink Centre or a major service provider, subject to the agreement of each individual. This information can be exchanged between authorised community care providers used by the individual via a secure network.
The information would be shared with authorised care providers within strict privacy safeguards. This will ensure that vital information is available and is coordinated.
The system will have care spanning a variety of service types offering different levels of support intensity. Available resources will be balanced to ensure both basic and more intensive services are available to consumers.
Better coordinated planning across the HACC Program and other community care programs will ensure that the right mix of services is available to people within each region.
Community care service providers will be required to show government that they are meeting standards of care to an appropriate level.
A consistent approach to reporting on financial and performance management and data collection across programs will result in reduced paperwork for service providers.
A single agreed quality assurance process will ensure providers are clear about their responsibilities in community care.
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