Aged care – Hope for the future

The Australian Government is committed to ensuring older Australians are able to access aged care services that are appropriate to their needs, when they need it and where people want it – at home.

On the 20th April 2012 the Australian Government announced a comprehensive package of reforms to build a fairer, more sustainable and more nationally consistent aged care system.

The current state of the aged care system simply put – it is not well placed to meet the challenges ahead. It is not delivering enough aged care in the home – and people strongly prefer to age and continue to live independently in their own home. There are not enough residential facilities being built and the aged care sector generally is finding it increasingly difficult to recruit and retain the support workers needed to meet the growing demand for aged care services.

The prognosis for the aged care sector simply put – if action is not taken now, Australia’s aged care system will increasingly struggle to deliver the standard of care older Australians require.

Older Australians are educated consumers and are demanding greater choice and control over their care arrangements, far beyond the capacity the aged care system is currently able to provide.

What is needed is a more equitable way of meeting the escalating costs of aged care, whilst ensuring that the most vulnerable in our society are fully protected. This means a transformation to a user pay system is inevitable as the aged care sector confronts the social and economic challenges that are integral to Australia’s ageing population.

The current economic environment has highlighted the cost of providing aged care services must be shared across the community. These changes address the structural reforms needed to guarantee the financial viability, and hence the future sustainability, of the aged care system.

It is vital therefore that people who can afford to contribute to the cost of their aged care services do so. Given that the cost to the community of providing aged care (and health care in general) will increase dramatically in the decades ahead due to the increasing demands of an ageing population, a number of significant changes must occur.

As an example, the introduction of more stringent means testing arrangements are imperative in order to achieve a more sustainable balance between public and private contributions.

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