The Gillard Government has announced a 10 year plan to reshape Australia’s aged care system, beginning 1 July 2012.
Federal Member for Maribyrnong, Bill Shorten, said Labor will spend $3.7 billion over five years to deliver Living Longer Living Better which will give older Australians and their families more choice, easier access and better care.
“The Gillard Government believes that every Australian, no matter where they live and what their financial means, deserve high quality aged care” Mr. Shorten said.
“Australia’s aged care system has served the nation well, but won’t be able to meet the needs of an ageing population. Our life expectancy has increased by up to 25 years over the past 100 years.
“We need to change the way we deliver care to make the system more sustainable as our population increases.
“These reforms will enable older Australia to get the support they deserve whilst remaining living in their own homes for as long as possible”.
The Government will increase the number of Home Care packages by two thirds, from 59,876 to almost 100,00 and provide tailored care packages to people receiving home care.
“Costs will be capped, so that full pensioners pay no more than the basic fee,” Mr Shorten said.
The Minister for Mental Health and Ageing, Mark Butler, said the reforms would introduce fairness into the payment system for aged care for the first time.
“Many pensioners with meagre savings and few assets are paying more than people with hundreds of thousands of dollars in assets and private income. As a result, pensioners are subsidising the accommodation and care costs of millionaires,” Mr Butler said.
Mr. Butler emphasised the changes will have no impact on the million people already in the aged care system – they will not pay any more than they would have under the current arrangements.
“This package reflects in large part what older Australians, their families and carers, and aged care providers have said is wrong with the system, along with the valuable input of the Productivity Commission report, Caring for Older Australians,” Mr Butler said.
Implementation of the reforms will be overseen by a new Aged Care Reform Implementation Council. The new reform package will be implemented in stages to enable providers and consumers to gain early benefits of key changes and have time to adapt and plan for further reform over the 10 years.
Key reforms in Living Longer Living Better
To make it easier for older Australians to stay in their home while they receive care, the Government will:
- Increase the number of Home Care Packages by two thirds - from 59,876 to almost 100,000 (99,669).
- Provide tailored care packages to people receiving home care, and new funding for dementia care.
- Cap costs, so that full pensioners pay no more than the basic fee.
To make sure more people can keep their family home, and to prevent anyone being forced to sell their home in an emergency firesale, the Government will:
- Provide more choice about how to pay for care. Instead of a bond which can cost up to $2.6 million and bears no resemblance to the actual cost of accommodation, you will be able to pay through a lump sum or a periodic payment, or a combination of both.
- Give families time to make a decision about how to pay, by introducing a cooling-off period.
- Cap care costs, with nobody paying more than $25,000 a year and no more than $60,000 over a lifetime.
To ensure there are immediate improvements as well, the government will also:
- Increase residential aged care places from 191,522 to 221,103
- Fund $1.2 billion to improve the aged care workforce through a Workforce Compact.
- Provide more funding for dementia care in aged care, and more support for services.
- Establish a single gateway to all aged care services, to make them easier to access and navigate.
- Set stricter standards, with greater oversight of aged care.