Older Australians waiting for aged care reforms

As politicians return to Canberra for Parliament before the Budget is brought down, COTA has appealed to them to guarantee older Australians the aged care that they deserve.


Council on the Ageing (COTA) Australia, says aged care reform has been on the backburner for far too long.


"It's an insult to the people who worked all their lives to build this country the rest of us enjoy today that implementation of aged care reforms is still not guaranteed," says Ian Yates, Chief Executive of COTA Australia.


"Everyone knows what needs to be done - the Productivity Commission has recommended it; major consumer organisations, aged care providers, unions and professional bodies in the sector support the Productivity Commission's reforms; and both the Government and Opposition know it has to happen.


"Yet seven months out from the government receiving the Productivity Commission's Final Report, the Federal Government and Opposition are still prevaricating.


"In the last Aged Care Approvals Round, released by government just before Christmas, providers applied for more than 24,000 community aged care packages - accurately reflecting the needs and preferences of older people out there in the community.


"Yet what did government have on offer - less than 1,800 packages.


"Not because this government is miserly. The current Opposition would have had the same or less on offer if they were in government. That's what our current aged care planning ratios provide for. And at the same time they were offering more residential beds than anyone wanted.


"The problem is our aged care system was designed for an earlier time. It doesn't meet people's needs any more. It’s more expensive than it needs to be. It's complicated, complex and hard to access. It’s losing staff because they are underpaid and undervalued. Fundamentally, it’s broken.


"It's past time for change. The Age Well campaign (www.agewellcampaign.com.au) points the way to the future with the whole sector supporting the same reform plan."


Ian Yates said an aged care sector united as never before will pursue reform relentlessly.


"There's no need to wait until the Budget", Mr Yates said. "Let the Prime Minister announce now that reform will be in the Budget and we can get cracking on implementing it. Everyone is ready - it's time to act."


7 February 2012.