The Truth Is Out There!

Over the past several years I have written often on how much funding I believe the aged care sector has been short-changed by a range of political and bureaucratic decisions over.  Aged care funding is not adequate to meet the health care needs of Australia’s frail elderly, vulnerable, care recipients.  My comments apply across residential aged care funding and home/community care package funding alike.  You can review some of my previous articles in the footnotes below. [1] [2]

Patricia Sparrow, Chief Executive of the not-profit aged care peak body Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA), commentating recently on home care packages, lamented the lack of preparedness and capability of our aged care system, saying “Until we see adequate long-term planning for the structural and funding issues, Australia won’t be able to fully address the needs of older Australians”.[3]  Sean Rooney, Chief Executive of Leading Aged Services Australia, similarly recently commented that the “aged care system needs adequate funding to be sustainable and meet the needs of seniors” and called for an additional $3 billion to “improve the viability of the sector”.[4]

Just this week I was briefed about the outcomes of a very recent Faster Horses Inside Aged Care Report (2019) of perceptions around aged care in Australia. I recommend this review to all readers of this blog. Reviewing response from over 1,500 people from a cross section of metropolitan centres, the response to two specific questions piqued my interest.

Only 17% of all respondents felt that the pricing model used by aged care providers is straightforward, and a high 63% of respondents agreed with the statement “There is not enough funding given to the aged care industry”. For respondents who currently have a family member receiving aged care services, the response rate for each question increases to 31% and 71% respectively. It is clear that even among those active in the industry, there is a poor understanding of pricing models, and there is a heightened need for additional funding in the industry.

The truth is out there, speaking loudly!  More funding is required – urgently and significantly – for viability, and to begin to fund an appropriate level and mix of well-trained staff.

Our elected Members and Senators, and career bureaucrats should listen closely.  Australia gets it that the burgeoning wave of frail elderly is going to hungrily devour scarce national fiscal resources.  But having an ineffective aged care system is injurious to these same people.  Let’s actively change the funding system that better reflects our overall capacity to pay from our own resources where we can, to care services that add value and quality to our lives, rather than a system that is building distrust, poor quality, decreased value of older persons’ lives, and, in some cases, harm and injury.

Nice chatting,

Wayne L Belcher


Further Reading:

[1]     http:// https://wlbelcher.com/aged-care-indexation/

[2]     https://wlbelcher.com/aged-care-sector-financial-comparators/

[3]     ACSA, Home Care Funds welcome but won’t dent waiting lists for home care. Aged & Community Services Australia <https://www.acsa.asn.au/Media/2019/Home-Care-Funds-welcome-but-won-t-dent-waiting-lis>.  Accessed 12 September 2019.

[4] Natasha Egan, Provider CEO survey highlights impact of financial pressures. Australian Ageing Agenda <https://www.australianageingagenda.com.au/2019/09/06/provider-ceo-survey-highlights-impact-of-financial-pressures/>.  Accessed 9 September 2019.

4 Replies to “The Truth Is Out There!”

  1. Thank you Wayne for the insight here.
    Is there any more report based articles expected? I think more sound research is required by the industry to help guide it! You seem to do that well.

    1. Hi Richard

      I hope I continue to have the time and opportunity to contribute to our sector. Do you want to see more snapshots specifically from the Faster Horses Report, or more general insights?

      Thank you for your contribution.

      Regards

  2. I watch the Q&A on ABC today and it makes me wonder if the ministers have read the Faster Horses report? The model now with 55% of care homes making a loss is not sustainable and the public know it. They need to realise that this model needs fixing now! Wayne what do you think the outcomes of all this will be?

    1. Hi Chris

      I think the sector is in deep crisis. From March 2019 o 30 June 2019 we (seem to) have the Commonwealth providing just enough in subsidy increases to ensure that some of the larger providers do not fail. There has no doubt been a short flow on effect to all residential providers, but this is only a short term respite from the longer term financial difficulties of the sector.

      My work from several years ago suggests that there can be other financing models that will actually work in the sector providing certainty of funding for those that can afford to pay, and supported funding sources for those who do not have the wealth to pay for accommodation. Several years ago I suggested a Superannuation Guarantee Levey additional payment of 3% which showed at the time would be an adequate amount to cover costs of aged care out until at least 2050.

      Australia has a burgeoning ageing population, and inevitably that means there will be increased demands on the public purse to fund the care of frail vulnerable eldery who need care. May should be able to receive care in their own home, but there will always be some who may not be able to continiue to live at home – the very cognitively frail, and very physocally frail with multiple morbidities and few able bodies people to provide even informal care at home. We have the wit to solve this dilemma, but the longer we wait, the more rapidly the aged care sector will deepen in its crisis. We have almost 120,000 people assessed by Commonwealth Government assessment protocols who cannot access a community care package at the level of assessed need. We have a residential care sector where 50% of all facilities are not making a profit, or not making sufficient profit to really ensure sustainability.

      This is not confined to just one side of the political divide. The Commonwealth has dallied over this for ten years now and something more positive needs to be done.

      We live in hope …

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