Aged care services that currently exist in Australia have served us well in the past, but there is wide-spread acceptance that as our population ages the system is now creaking under its load. We were very pleased to read the Productivity Commission’s recent draft report ‘Caring for Older Australians’. The Draft Report provides comprehensive, high quality recommendations that should provide a blueprint for future reform of aged care in Australia. I have been pleased to note that the report has been well accepted across the industry and, for the most part, by advocacy groups involved in aged care.
The report contains a strong focus on clients. If the recommendations in the report are adopted, clients will genuinely become the focal point for the sector through the provision of better information, and having greater choice and input into their care.
There are also recommendations that would remove the disconnect between the cost of delivering care and the current funding formulas. We have seen a gradual deterioration in funding subsidies in many parts of the industry over the years, as wages have risen faster than funding formulas. This is an industry wide issue. Any organisation that is struggling to cover its costs is not going to be able to deliver the standard of care that it would like, and nor is it going to have the resources to strategically improve its future service.
While there has always been an argument for productivity improvements in the industry, the adjustments over time have proved too great for many providers. Recommendations in the report for an independent body assessing the cost of delivering care are welcome.
I also note further support measures for our workforce programs are proposed. We are pleased to see difficulties in this area acknowledged in the report. I believe that workforce issues are primarily a challenge implementing organisations must overcome, however support is appreciated in improving the value proposition we offer to staff.
Any report is going to have its imperfections, and it is easy to pick holes, create confusion, or build controversy around a set of reforms such as this. I sincerely hope that as advocates for our clients, and our industry, we can unite behind what I think is the best opportunity for reform that we have witnessed in our industry in decades.
When looked at in their entirety, I think the recommendations provide an opportunity for organisations to become more successful through greater innovation and greater client focus. I see a future industry structure that rewards communicating with our clients, rewards a focus on delivering what our clients want, and rewards being responsive to their needs. Surely this is what we are all trying to achieve.
The Productivity Commission has provided plenty of opportunity for comment on its draft report prior to its finalisation, and I am confident that fine-tuning will be done through this process. I congratulate the Productivity Commission on a well researched, and comprehensive report. I hope that this report will become a practical set of reforms, and that in the future the Gillard government will be able to point to this as one of their key achievements while in office.
I encourage everyone reading this to continue to maintain interest in the aged care system that will support them in the final years of their lives.
The link below connects to a set of articles on Google’s news service relating to the report.
For those interested, I have also included a link to the report itself. You’ve got to be pretty dedicated to read the whole report, however the full list of draft recommendations is included at page XLV in the Introductory Sections.