Living longer, living better Aged Care reforms? Aged Care slashing!

There has been much media coverage regarding the “Living Better. Living Longer.” aged care reform package announced in April 2012. The finer details of the package are still being determined. It should be noted although the government invested heavily in the Productivity Commission report, little of the report’s findings and recommendations has been adopted in the proposed aged care reforms.

Although the aged care reforms do not auger well for the residential aged care services sector, we want to reassure you that resident care at Prom Country Aged Care Inc. will be in no way compromised due to the proposed slashing in government funding.

According to the aged care industry, its peak bodies and the recent aged care congress in Melbourne, the Gillard government’s announcement about a $3.7 million injection into aged care, originally applauded, when analysed, is not as it seems. There will be a serious slash to aged care funding from 01 July 2012, which will threaten the viability of residential care services and their ability to provide adequate care to new residents.

Consultations with state and national peak bodies and the ensuing economic modelling, have shown the “high-profile budget announcement of a $50 million redirection” will result in an actual reduction of over $500 million.

Economic modelling by providers of varying sizes has indicated subsidy income will be cut by between five and 10 per cent for every provider. Larger, multi sited organisations may be able to carry these reductions more ably than single stand alone, not for profit organisations, however, all residential aged care service providers will be affected.

The previous funding tool, Aged Care Funding Instrument (ACFI), developed by Dr Richard Rosewarne, was introduced in 2008, trialled and implemented. This was to replace the old Resident Classification Scale (RCS) and was promoted as being the government’s answer to ensure funding and subsides for our frail elderly would be adequate to meet their care needs, and affordable by the goverment.  It is interesting to note that this government did not consult with Dr Rosewarne, in fact, had no contact with him, regarding the proposed changes to ACFI subsidies.

“As a result of this new model, residents with exactly the same care needs in the same facility could be entitled to different levels of funding” stated Kate Hough, acting CEO of Aged and Community Care Victoria (ACCV), Victoria’s aged care peak body.

Although peak bodies and the National Aged Care Alliance sponsor group requested the government to delay the funding changes by a month in order to allow providers time to adjust to the new system, the request has been ignored.

Aged and Community Services Western Australia (ACSWA) Board has called an emergency meeting for Monday 25 June 2012 to review the government’s decision and formulate a strategy “to deal with this emergency”.

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Once again, we want you to be reassured that no resident’s care will be compromised in any way at Prom Country Aged Care Inc. This is a time for us all to rally together, lobby our local, state and federal members of parliament to ensure our frail, vulnerable elderly, receive the care they deserve; it is a right, not a privilege.

Please do not hesitate to contact me should you require further discussion about any aspect of residential aged care. As I have said in previous columns, going into aged care residential services is not a death sentence; it is just a change of address. With the Eden Alternative Philosophy it is also a journey of change to resident focussed care, a journey of living and life.