Public policy think tank Grattan Institute says the Federal Government needs to spend an additional $9.8 billion a year on recommended aged care reform measures.

Public policy think tank Grattan Institute says the Federal Government needs to spend an additional $9.8 billion a year on recommended aged care reform measures.

Grattan Institute released a report this month identifying the cost of key reforms in response to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety’s final report.

The Grattan report aims to help the government navigate through the differing recommendations of the royal commissioners and provide a pathway for aged care reform.

Under the model, the proposed $9.8 million would go toward:

  • clearing the home care wait list and ensuring people receive home care within 30 days of assessment
  • a higher level funding package to enable Australians to remain at home for longer.
  • boosting the aged care workforce by employing at least 70,000 additional workers
  • thousands of care finders nationally to make it easier for people to navigate the aged care system
  • making the system more transparent to ensure taxpayer money is spent on high-quality care

Grattan’s model is based on a fundamental need to change the whole aged care system, said lead author Dr Stephen Duckett.

Dr Stephen Duckett

“We need to throw out the existing regulatory arrangements and we need to throw out the existing ideology about how the aged care system ought to be run and regulated and start afresh,” Dr Duckett said.

“In particular, we said we could start afresh with a rights-based approach to aged care and this would involve giving people a right to access. And once they’re in aged care systems or programs, a right to, as far as possible, pursue their own objectives, their own goals,” said Dr Duckett, Grattan’s health and aged care program director.

It is critically important to get this funding to improve aged care, he said.

“Australians… heard the stories from the royal commission of very bad care in residential aged care… [and there are] 100,000 people on the home care waiting list. These are things that we shouldn’t be expecting in a civilised society.”

Sourcing more dollars

The $9.8 billion annual price tag corresponds to the figure the royal commissioners found was cut from the 2018-19 aged care budget due the collective decisions of successive governments.

The report suggests various ways of funding the model but suggests the “onus is on the Federal Government to identify the best way to fund the increased spending” and announce it soon.

Dr Duckett said the government could consider funding the model via a Medicare-style aged care levy, a form of which was recommended by both royal commissioners.

“A 1 per cent increase would cost Australian taxpayers an extra $700- $800 a year each, and most taxpayers would support that, given the stories we’ve heard.”

The funding could also come from older people, such as through including more of the value of the family home in the Age Pension assets test and changes to superannuation tax arrangements, he said.

Dr Duckett said he hoped the report would influence the upcoming Federal Budget.

“We’re aiming for the government to put a whole lot of extra money into aged care as part of the budget process,” he said.

He said the model should be implemented as soon as possible.

“We’d hope to see this happening over the next three to four years,” he said.

The government has flagged that a new Aged Care Act could be two years away.

This article was first published on Australian Ageing Agenda.

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