Elderly Australians require access to care in growing numbers as the population of over-65 residents continues to climb. This is a pertinent issue in aged care, and one that needs to be resolved.
The Aged Care Financing Authority (ACFA) recently came forward with a new discussion paper about ensuring access to care for supported residents, following a requirement under its operating framework. By 31 December this year, the ACFA needs to issue guidance on this issue to the assistant minister for social services.
According to the discussion paper, a principle underlying aged care is that people who can afford to contribute to their care should do so, while those who cannot should not be denied access to services.
"While aged care accommodation is considered a personal expense, in line with the above principle, the Australian government has a safety net for those who cannot afford to pay all or part of their accommodation costs," the paper explained.
Currently, the government supports access to care through a number of policy settings. These include paying an accommodation supplement in respect of supported residents, setting minimum target ratios for supported residents that providers are required to meet and discounting the maximum accommodation supplement.
The ACFA notes that the settings outlined above were not altered by the 1 July changes to funding last year. Under these arrangements, however, eligibility for a part or full accommodation supplement is determined by assessable income and assets, rather than solely assessable assets.
The organisation also identified recommendations of the Productivity Commission report from 2011 – Caring for Older Australians. However, the ACFA is also seeking guidance and feedback outside of the organisation.
Comments are sought on the impacts on providers of the riles related to supported residents and possible alternative mechanisms for ensuring access to care for these members of the elderly population.
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