A blueprint for better aged care

A public policy think tank has released a blueprint for a rights-based system of aged care which would see the nation divided into 30 regions, each with a ‘system manager’ responsible for individual support plans for older people in their area.

A leading public policy think tank has released a blueprint for a rights-based system of aged care which would see the nation divided into 30 regions, each with a ‘system manager’ responsible for individual support plans for older people in their area.

Stephen Duckett

The Grattan Institute report, Reforming Aged Care: A practical plan for a rights based system, says a new Aged Care Act, as recommended by the aged care royal commission, should create a system that guarantees care and support for all who need it.

Each older Australian would have the help of a local ‘assessment officer’ to draw up their support plan, and a local ‘support manager’ to act as their advocate in obtaining necessary services, the report says.

“Older Australians should have face-to-face help to obtain a range of diverse and high-quality service options,” it says.

“Rather than a poorly-regulated and fragmented system far away in Canberra, 30 regionally-based ‘system managers’ across the country should be made responsible for the care of older Australians in a defined geographic area.

“They should manage the local service system and only accredit providers dedicated to the rights of older Australians.”

The proposed system would allow many more Australians to have care and support in their own homes, the report says.

Lead author and Grattan Institute Health Program Director Stephen Duckett says Australians already have universal access to health care via Medicare, and universal access to disability support via the NDIS.

“It’s time older Australians had universal access to aged care,” he said.

“Our report is a blueprint for something we could all be proud of – an aged care system that protects the rights, upholds the dignity, and celebrates the contribution of older Australians.”

The report says spending an extra $7 billion a year – a 35 per cent increase on current expenditure – could provide all older Australians with the care and support they need.

It envisages a three year phase-in period for the new system,   starting next year with a trial in the two smallest states, South Australia and Tasmania.

The report says the current system has let down older Australians including unacceptable waiting times for home care and lessons must be learnt from the royal commission.

As well as the regional system managers model, the report also calls for universal access to aged care, a new funding model matched to individual need, more social participation programs promoting healthy ageing and better integration between aged and health care.

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