High-quality care for older Aussies easily affordable: Report

Deloitte Access Economics suggests fixing the aged care system would not be expensive.

woman and her mother at an aged care facility

While the high number of COVID deaths and cases in Victoria in recent months highlights the health crisis in private aged care facilities, the royal commission into the sector will turn its attention to funding next week.

Two independent reports released ahead of the upcoming hearings into the funding and financing of aged care have already provided considerable insight into the problems and how they could be tackled.

One report laid out a plan for high-quality care and suggested that the increase in federal government funding to achieve the level required was much less than taxpayers were willing to pay, while another independent report investigated transparency relating to how government funds were being spent, and found gaping holes.

Modelling by Deloitte Access Economics suggests that a wide-ranging reform package being considered by the royal commission would cost less than one-third of the amount taxpayers are willing to spend on the sector.

The reform package includes:

  • mandatory four-star staffing levels in aged care homes
  • other workforce improvements such as mandatory Certificate III training for personal care workers and a national personal care worker register as in other professions that work with vulnerable people
  • uncapping the number of Home Care Packages so people receive the care they need rather than languish on a waiting list
  • significant improvements in health services, including access to GPs, psychologists, dentists, and rehabilitation
    greater access to respite services to support informal carers
  • getting young people with a disability out of aged care homes into accommodation appropriate for them
  • new teams of case managers giving face-to-face support to people who need help to access aged care services
  • improved resourcing for public guardians to help the most vulnerable elderly people without family or friends to support them.

According to the Deloitte modelling, these changes would need new funding, equivalent to a one percentage point increase in income tax rates. A separate study by Flinders University has shown that the average taxpayer is willing to pay 3.1 percentage points so all Australians can access high-quality aged care.

The reforms would also create around 30,000 additional full-time equivalent jobs in aged care by the end of the decade on top of more than 50,000 extra full-time equivalent workers that will be needed because of population trends.

Wages in the aged care sector would also rise to levels equivalent to other healthcare sectors to attract the required workers.

The royal commission also engaged BDO to analyse where approximately $25 billion in federal funds for aged care are currently being spent, and their independent report found “insufficient financial transparency”.

BDO’s report claims that the Department of Health reporting obligations are so limited it cannot work out how the $25 billion is being spent.

BDO used the Department of Health data, which is not available to the public, and concluded that there are large differences in the way in which individual aged care providers structure their operations and the costs they incur such as interest, management fees and rent.

These expense items can range from zero to 100 per cent of total expenses for different individual aged care providers.

BDO’s view is that the aged care industry's overall financial performance is unclear because of what they consider to be limited reporting obligations set by the Department of Health, aged care providers' use of group entity structures, transactions between related entities and the delivery of non-aged care activities by some providers.

Would you be happy for the federal government to spend more money on the aged care sector to ensure all Australians can access high-quality aged care?

If you enjoy our content, don’t keep it to yourself. Share our free eNews with your friends and encourage them to sign up.

RELATED ARTICLES





    COMMENTS

    To make a comment, please register or login
    Dancer
    9th Sep 2020
    5:38pm
    Of course, I am sure we would all be happy for more funding to be immediately allocated to aged care so all in need can access high quality care - both residential facilities and at-home for those who are able to remain at home with some additional help. It's a no-brainer - funding on prevention instead of trying to fix the problem.
    Personal care workers must be better trained and better paid, then it will attract people who genuinely enjoy this type of work (rather than those who are forced into it through lack of other options) - and become an employment path that is both attractive to the worker and safer for the recipient. More nurses and personal care staff employed means more taxes paid, more disposable income being put into the economy, and less medical/hospital interventions needed - A win-win situation.
    Tanker
    9th Sep 2020
    6:01pm
    Most of the workers in aged care do enjoy their work but the taxpayers funds are at the sole discretion of the owners of the facilities. They do not answer to anyone as to how they spend the money they are given.
    Dave R
    9th Sep 2020
    6:06pm
    Some, maybe most, private aged care operators are putting profits ahead of adequate patient care. Until that is addressed more money will not fix the problems.
    Jaymee
    10th Sep 2020
    7:49am
    The motto for private aged care seems to be 'profits before people' with more concern for return to the share holders than the level of care and adequate staffing levels. Pay levels for staff are a disgrace for the work they do .. something some families can not or will not do. No amount of money will fix the current system unless companies are made accountable for the tax payers money they already receive. In many cases massive bonds are taken from residents who do not receive any interest on those funds. Where does that money go as well .... oh that's right ... build more fancy residences but still not deliver care to the required level or staff appropriately. Fingers crossed the outcome from the Aged Care Commission will be acted on promptly.
    patti
    11th Sep 2020
    10:36am
    Its not that the money has not been available, it's just been mismanaged for a long time. Especially under the current government. My only income is the Age Pension. But I'd be happy to pay that if I were guaranteed quality of care. Perhaps Aged Care should not be a for profit business, but funded by the Australian taxpayer much as hospitals are now.
    Dancer
    11th Sep 2020
    3:05pm
    Patti, currently you probably would have to pay 85% of your pension to be in residential aged care - which leaves very little for other expenses you may have.
    And yes, I agree that aged care organisations should definitely be non-profit and the board of management should be paid a reasonable retainer but not the huge sums many currently receive.