Apart from fixing some nomenclature issues, a revision of the Act is needed to ensure it correctly articulates the new and changed commitments made by the Australian Government in the Living Longer Living Better package of aged care reforms, and the different context for provision of aged care services as a result of these changes.
This submission is written in response to the National Standards for Out of Home Care Consultation Paper. It answers the five consultation questions provided in the paper and additionally recommends the establishment of a National Children’s Commissioner to oversee the national OOHC standards.
UnitingCare is pleased to contribute a response to thirteen recommendations related to aged care services that were developed by the Productivity Commission in its review of regulatory burden on business in June 2009.
The current model for provision of services for people as they get older is no longer relevant or appropriate and does not meet the needs or expectations of older people or their families now, and will not in the future. Consider these facts:
• 50% of women and 40% of men aged 65 years in 2008 will be placed in an aged care residential facility before they die;
• There will be a fourfold increase in demand for aged care services over the next generation;
• The majority of residential care facilities operated at a loss in 2007;
• 60% of people aged 70 and older have expressed a clear preference to remain in their own homes supported by a range of services
• Many facilities cannot operate at full capacity due to staffing shortages, despite strong demand;
• Staff shortages are compounded by frustration with regulation and compliance burdens diverting staff time from delivering quality care and promoting quality of life for residents to administrative tasks.
In this submission “UnitingCare” and “UnitingCare agencies” refer to three particular UnitingCare network agencies, Blue Care in Queensland, Uniting Aged Care Victoria and Tasmania and Uniting Church Homes in Western Australia.
UnitingCare provides services and supports in all states and territories to people living with a disability and their carers and families through a wide range of programs and initiatives. Many of these are specifically targeted at people living with a disability, many others have a broader target and support clients who are living with a disability – such as accommodation and housing support, financial services, employment programs, family support programs and respite care. This provides UnitingCare with a very broad understanding of the needs of, and constraints faced by people living with a disability and their carers and families throughout their lifetimes. This understanding informs this submission which draws on the experience and expertise of staff in the UnitingCare network throughout Australia. It highlights key issues faced by people who are ageing with a disability, and provides examples of promising practices in this area from UnitingCare service providers, and the broader service community in Australia and overseas.
Agencies in the UnitingCare network provide services and supports in all states and territories to older Australians, their carers and families through a wide range of programs and initiatives in community based and facility-based care. We welcome the opportunity to make a submission to the Productivity Commission’s Inquiry into Caring for Older Australians. As a member of the Campaign for the Care of Older Australians, UnitingCare Australia has said this Inquiry must lead to action and a plan for renewal that can commence in the next term of government. It must prioritise the well being and independence of older people within the health and community care systems and adopt a universal entitlement approach to aged care services.
UnitingCare Australia would like to commend the Productivity Commission for the consultative and forward looking work they have done so far. UnitingCare supports the broad architecture and directions for reform that are being suggested by the Productivity Commission and particularly appreciate that the work provides a platform for the sector and the government to work together to implement a staged reform process.
This submission was developed by BlueCare, the Queensland based aged care service that is part of the UnitingCare network. BlueCare has significant expertise in quality improvement in aged care, on which this submission is based. Other services in the UnitingCare network have endorsed this submission and support the commentary and recommendations made.
In November 2011 UnitingCare Australia presented our criteria for evaluation of aged care reform:
Equity of aged care outcomes regardless of personal wealth or complexity of needs
Improved access to and supply of services when and where they are needed, and at an affordable price
Improved choice of service options and how these are provided; and
Sustainability of services, including access to capital, so they can grow and improve in response to needs and expectations.