Hunter Valley News Column

Weekly Column

Under landmark changes to the aged care system, more people will get to keep their home, and more people will get to stay in their home as they receive aged care. The Prime Minister recently announced a 10 year plan to reshape aged care, beginning 1 July 2012.
The government will deliver the $3.7 billion Living Longer Living Better planto deliver more choice, easier access and better care for older Australians and their families.
To make it easier for older Australians to stay in their home while they receive care, we will:
  • Increase the number of Home Care Packages- from 59,876 to almost 100,000 (99,669).
  • Provide tailored care packages to people receiving home care, and new funding for dementia care.
  • Cap costs, so that full pensioners pay no more than the basic fee.
To make sure more people get to keep their family home, and to prevent anyone being forced to sell their home in an emergency fire sale, we will:
  • Provide more choice about how to pay for care. Instead of a bond which can cost up to $2.6 million and bears no resemblance to the actual cost of accommodation, you will be able to pay through a lump sum or a periodic payment, or a combination of both.
  • Give families time to make a decision about how to pay, by introducing a cooling-off period.
  • Cap care costs, with nobody paying more than $25,000 a year and no more than $60,000 over a lifetime.
For the first time, we will also introduce fairness into the payment system. Right now, pensioners often pay more than people with hundreds of thousands of dollars in assets and a private income. As a result, pensioners are subsidising the accommodation and care costs of millionaires.
From now on the system will be fairer, based on capacity to pay. The amount you pay for aged care services will be capped and underpinned by tightened means testing, meaning older Australians will not be forced into a fire sale of the family home in order to get access to aged care.
This will not affect the million people already in the system, who will not pay a cent more than they would have under the current arrangements.
To ensure there are immediate improvements as well, the government will also:
·         Increase residential aged care places from 191,522 to 221,103
·         Fund $1.2 billion to improve the aged care workforce through a Workforce Compact.
  • Provide more funding for dementia care in aged care, and more support for services.
  • Establish a single gateway to all aged care services, to make them easier to access and navigate.
  • Set stricter standards, with greater oversight of aged care.
This package reflects in large part what older Australians, their families and carers, and aged care providers have told us is wrong with the system, along with the valuable input of the Productivity Commission report, Caring for Older Australians.

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