Living Longer, Living Better – Aged Care Industry Shake Up

Living Longer Living BetterAs many of you would be aware, the Productivity Commission of Australia (PCA) released their inquiry report “Caring for Older Australians” to the public in August 2011. In April this year, the Gillard government in response to the report, introduced its aged care reform pack titled “Living Longer, Living Better”Elements Living’s view of this reform is that it is about time that the aged-care industry gets a good shake-up!

This sector has been besieged by poor government funding and a predominantly negative profile. It probably does not help that it is difficult to achieve high customer satisfaction as most of the residents in the nursing homes are obviously not there by choice!

Living Longer Living Better - Our homes age in place readyWhen designing our homes at Elements, concepts of livability, accessibility and visitability are heavily embraced and we are proud to be one of the very few retirement villages which have ensured that all our homes are designed to assist our residents to age-in-place and to be able to receive the care they need when they need it.

In fact, the community nurses who visit our residents gave Elements the big thumbs up as our home design enables them to deliver their services to their clients with ease and more importantly, it allows our residents to receive care with dignity.

“I would encourage all of you to examine the reform pack, talk to your spouses and children and be sure to ask your financial planners to explain how this affects your post retirement budget,” suggested Chiou See Anderson, Elements Managing Director.

Living Longer, Living Better

“Living Longer, Living Better” – A Brief Summary

As it relates to seniors who are currently living independently:

  • Accommodation and daily living expenses should be borne by seniors with a safety net for those with limited means

    What this means is that if you need to go to a nursing home, you will have a choice of paying for your accommodation through a fully refundable accommodation lump sum payment, a periodic payment or both
  • Significantly increase the number of home care packages to encourage seniors to age-in-place and delay the need to seek nursing home beds

    What this means is that as costs of residential care keeps spiralling upwards, the government is going to try to delay and in some cases, avoid having seniors move into nursing homes unless they absolutely have to. As the inquiry has found, seniors would prefer to live in their own homes and as long as their homes are suitably designed for them to receive care in-home, the policy push will be that the increase in the number of home care packages will meet the expected demand resulting from the anticipated increase in the number of seniors coming through.
  • There will be co-contribution towards home care packages (means tested) and co-contribution will be limited to a life-time limit of $60,000

    What this means is that even though we currently already have a co-contribution system in place for home care packages, this new co-contribution will reduce the level of government care subsidy being expended.
  • The distinction of low care and high care in nursing homes will be abolished

    What this means is that by abolishing the sometimes awkward distinction, it will pave the way for a single accommodation payment system for residential care.
  • The establishment of an Aged Care Gateway to assist people to better navigate their way through the complex aged care system
    What this means is that you will no longer have to dial 6 (I exaggerate) government (or pseudo government) agencies to find out where to do what. In theory, you will soon be able to visit a My Aged Care website or call a national call centre for all your aged care needs.

Almost all the reforms will have a phased in period and a start date of 1st July 2014. Each reform will affect each individual differently.

For more information, visit the Department of Health and Ageing’s website.

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