National Aged Care Advocacy Program Rolls Out
Wednesday, 12th July 2017 at 2:20 pm
A $25.7 million National Aged Care Advocacy Program (NACAP) is to be delivered by the federally funded not for profit Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN) in a new national funding agreement.
Federal Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt said OPAN would receive $25.7 million over the next three years to supply wide-ranging advocacy services.
OPAN will deliver the advocacy program through a consortium of nine service delivery organisations across all states and territories who collaborated to secure the new federal funding.
“Moving to a single provider model will allow the NACAP to build on its experience and expand its skills base,” Wyatt said.
“Through its extensive national presence, OPAN will ensure strong advocacy services continue.
“With consumers now more involved in making decisions, I understand the important role strong advocacy can play, especially when people may find it difficult to express themselves.”
The minister said the announcement followed the development of the draft National Aged Care Advocacy Framework, which would support OPAN to “deliver high-quality, consistent and streamlined advocacy through the redesigned NACAP”.
“The framework, which provides a mechanism to drive a more consistent, national approach to the delivery of individual advocacy services, will be finalised with OPAN in collaboration with other key stakeholders,” he said.
One of the largest not-for-profit members of the national consortium, Seniors Rights Service (SRS) in NSW said the collaboration with other agencies meant they had secured an increase in the funding available for advocacy services for aged care across Australia.
SRS CEO Russell Westacott told Pro Bono News the funding was a “good deal”.
“Our [funding] contracts had run down as at 30 June and then the money for a new program was put out for tender by the federal government. We went for that money as part of a national consortium and it was that national network that was successful in getting that money,” Westacott said.
“That network is all the providers that were getting the funding before but we are getting it now as a national organisation and dispersing it through the national bid.
“The money is slightly bigger and it will give Seniors Rights Service an opportunity to do more work in regional NSW because NSW is one of the largest states and also has almost 400,000 recipients of aged care. We see about 4,000 [clients] a year in NSW and provide advocacy services for them.
“They are coming to us with an advocacy matter that might be anything from having a problem with their aged care provider, for example issues with food, or bonds or fees and we can certainly help in trying to be their voice for them. We are advocating for a better deal within aged care.
“With this little bit of extra funding we are hoping to open three new regional offices across NSW.
“This gives us an opportunity to beef up the services in NSW because compared to other states and territories NSW wasn’t getting as much per capita so we are trying to remedy that situation with this new arrangement. It’s a good deal for us and also with the national group.”
He said the group had put money aside to do some innovative outreach programs across the country.
“So there will be more things happening on the digital platform and being able to roll things out through the Aged Care Channel which goes to aged care facilities,” Westacott said.
Peak body Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA) also welcomed the new funding arrangement.
ACSA CEO Pat Sparrow said the industry supported any service that was designed to provide assistance to older Australians.
“Advocacy services exist to provide vital support and advice to our clients and residents, and positive engagement between these services and aged care providers is crucial,” Sparrow said.
“The number one priority for providers is the safety, quality of life and wellbeing of residents and clients.
“Consumer protections are a fundamental element of the aged care system in Australia.”
Sparrow said ACSA looked forward to working with OPAN to ensure the NACAP was successfully rolled out across the country and that the program provided strong support to consumers.