UnitingCare Australia says Productivity Commission delivers for older Australians

UnitingCare Australia says Productivity Commission delivers for older Australians

UnitingCare Australia said the release of the Productivity Commission’s report into aged care and the Prime Minister’s positive response signals that the Federal Government will step up to the urgent challenge of fixing a broken system.

Commenting shortly after the release of the report, National Director, Lin Hatfield Dodds said, “After decades of reviews, recommendations and neglect we now have a clear direction for comprehensive aged care reform.

“Complexity of care is rising. Services and consumer choice are limited. People have to wait for long periods to access aged care. Workforce shortages are increasing.

“Australia needs an aged care system that supports older people to be all they are able to be. The Productivity Commission report substantially delivers on the range and depth of reform.

“UnitingCare strongly supports the report’s recommendation to shift from a rationed aged care system to a system based on entitlement. Rather than being entitled to be on a waiting list, older Australians will be entitled to aged care services.

“UnitingCare welcomes the report’s recognition that Indigenous Australians, and rural and remote communities require special arrangements to meet their particular needs.”

Chair of the Uniting Care Australia Aged Care Network and Executive Director of Blue Care, Queensland’s largest aged care provider, Robyn Batten, said, “The report emphasises reform to care for older people in their community, which is where people prefer to be.

“By 2050, around 3.6 million Australians will be accessing aged care. The vast majority, three million people, will receive care and support in their own community rather than in a nursing home.

“Aged care providers can play a much greater role in promoting health and preventing older people entering hospital. The Commission’s recommendations envisage aged care services expanding their role to support older Australians through all stages of their life.

“The Commission’s funding and financing options are a welcome improvement on the current complex, inefficient and inequitable arrangements. While those who can will be expected to contribute to the costs of their care and accommodation, safety nets including mandatory quotas and means testing will ensure that all Australians get the care they need regardless of their capacity to pay.

“Currently, too many Australians need to sell the family home to pay for aged care accommodation. The Commission’s proposal for an Aged Care Home Credit Scheme would enable people to borrow against their share of the family home without being compelled to sell it, or require a partner not needing residential care to leave the home.

“If people do choose to sell their house, they can avoid having its value included in the pensions means test by using the proposed Pensioners Saving Account.

“Taken together, the recommendations about uncapping the supply of aged care services and future financing, if implemented, would deliver a robust and diverse aged care system without clawing away the family home or people’s pensions.”

Ms Hatfield Dodds said, “Our current aged care system is broken. The Australian community is ready for change. We need the Federal Government and the whole Parliament to work with us in order to achieve it.”

The UnitingCare network is one of the largest providers of social services in Australia delivering care to over two million people through 1,300 sites in remote, regional and metropolitan communities.

It provides community-based aged care in remote, regional and metropolitan communities in every state and territory and manages 12 per cent of all residential aged care places in Australia with over 12,000 aged care beds nationally.

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