Aged care needs overhaul: Productivity Commission
A PRODUCTIVITY Commission's report on aged care has recommended an overhaul of the system, including means testing of aged care residents and the removal of caps on care packages and residential bed numbers.
The draft report, Caring for Older Australians, identifies a number of weaknesses in the aged care system including difficulties navigating the system, gaps in service coverage, inequitable service charges and workforce pressures.
According to the report, pressures on the aged care workforce could also be alleviated through wage increases for nurses and other care staff delivering aged care services.
Other workforce recommendations included advanced clinical courses for nurses to become nurse practitioners as well as an expansion of teaching aged care services to medical, nursing and allied health care students.
However, the report did not recommend changes to the PIP payments related to GP visits to aged care facilities which have been criticised by the AMA as failing to negate the "strong financial incentive for the doctor to leave their surgery... to provide services in residential aged care".
Among other recommendations in the report, released as part of an inquiry into the aged care sector, is the suggestion that older Australians requiring aged care could pay for their accommodation via a lump sum bond, periodic payments or a combination of both.
The report estimates that by 2050 it is expected that the number of Australians relying on the aged care system will treble to 3.6 million.
Deputy Chairman Mike Woods, who is presiding over the inquiry, for which submissions are now open until 12 March, said the proposed reforms aimed to ensure services were tailored to the needs of aged Australians, and would provide a greater choice of providers.
"The challenge is to reform the system, while keeping that expenditure within sustainable limits."