NFP Sector Responds to Aged Care Report
21 January 2011 at 3:10 pm
Australian Not for Profits have been quick to respond following the release of the Productivity Commission’s Draft Report into aged care, and although most groups have welcomed the report, nursing bodies have expressed strong disappointment.
The Australian Nursing Federation has reacted angrily to the report, expressing deep disappointment that it fails to address key workforce issues faced by the aged care sector.
ANF federal secretary Lee Thomas says a failure to recommend any substantial changes to the care received by elderly residents’ means the Productivity Commission has not upheld the key objectives of the report. Australians who rely on the aged care sector should be very concerned.
She says the report fails to recognise that minimum care hours are vital for the delivery of quality care; fails to recognise that staffing levels and skills mix are integral to improving care for older Australians; and fails to recommend licensing of all workers in the sector despite the main aim of licensing being protection of the public.
Thomas says the report only pays scant regard to wages – despite wage disparity having led to a staffing crisis.
She says nurses and assistants in nursing are not just the back bone of the sector;they are keeping the system going day in and day out and the Productivity Commission has ignored their call for urgent workforce reform.
The Victorian Branch of the ANF also reacted negatively to the report, with ANF (Vic Branch) Acting Secretary Paul Gilbert saying the recommendations would not bring quality aged care reform.
Gilbert says the draft report does next to nothing to address the issues related to delivering quality care to vulnerable older Australians.
He says it appears to propose almost complete deregulation of the sector, leaving the most frail and vulnerable elderly Australians, who need high level care, paying more for less.
Gilbert also slammed the report for failing to addressing staffing issues.
UnitingCare Australia welcomed the release, with National Director Lin Hatfield Dodds saying that at first glance the Commission’s report has made bold recommendations that address the hard structural issues which threaten to undermine the future provision of quality aged care in the community and in aged care facilities.
She says the Report’s recommendations promise greater choice of aged care options for older Australians with a focus on prevention, restoration and rehabilitation and vastly improved access to a wider range of community-based and residential services, and the funding and financing options in the report are a welcome departure from existing complex and inefficient arrangements.
The Benevolent Society also welcomed the draft report, saying the report’s recommendations on Age-friendly housing and reducing social isolation of older people show that the Commission has really listened to the concerns of older Australians and those who care for their needs.
The Benevolent Society General Manager for Ageing Barbara Squires says the Report correctly assesses that older people want to live as independently as possible and stay connected to their community in suitable and affordable housing.
She says the Society also welcomes the Commission’s support for the removal of stamp duty, relaxation of the pension assets test for older home-owners.
Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA) Acting CEO Pat Sparrow says the report paved the way for a sustainable aged care system better able to deliver a range of service and accommodation options.
Sparrow says the proposed payment options for residential care and accommodation addresses fairness and equity for consumers and creates a more balanced funding structure for aged care providers.
Aged Care Assocation Australia (ACAA) CEO Rod Young says the draft report has been warmly welcomed by the industry.
Young says the report sets a clear template for reform and sensible time frame for implementation.
He says it will take some years for these changes to work their way through the system. It
will be essential that the transition from the old scheme to the new is handled sensitively and in a manner that the industry can absorb.
Benetas CEO Sandra Hills says its great to see the focus being placed back on people’s needs, providing them with the type of care that suits them, rather than forcing them to fit into a predetermined model.
She says Benetas strongly support the recommendations to remove the existing differentiations between levels of care, and provide services based purely on individual needs.
ANGLICARE Sydney Acting CEO, Sue King, says the report seeks to address the growing gap that sees the government funding available for the provision of residential aged care decreasing in real terms each year, something that has made it increasingly difficult to operate facilities on a sustainable basis.
King says simplifying the system and providing a single gateway for information, assessments and referrals will also contribute to streamlining current over?complication and inflexibility.
Carers Australia President Tim Moore says it is encouraging to see that, as part of the proposed aged care reforms, the needs of unpaid family carers have been acknowledged and considered.
Moore says the proposed reforms would see the needs of family carers assessed at the same time as those requiring care.
He says this is a positive step forward and one which addresses concerns Carers Australia heard regularly in their recent consultations with carers around the country.
Minister for Mental Health and Ageing Mark Butler says the draft report is an important first step in the reform of aged care in Australia.
Encouraging all those interested in aged care reform to make submission to the Productivity Commission, Butler says the Government will wait for the Final Report in June before responding to any recommendations.
The report may be found at www.pc.gov.au. Written submissions on the draft report must be received by the Productivity Commission by Monday 21 March 2011.