This submission is COTA Australia’s response to the discussion paper produced by Department of Health and Aged Care on the design of the new In-Home Aged Care Program as part of the Australian Government aged care reform consultation process.
The Australian Government has committed to a new integrated In-Home Aged Care Program by July 2024.
Reform on home care is long overdue. Current services are overly complex. Older people wait too long for services. Outcomes are variable and inconsistent. Services do not provide value for money with confusing charges and fees that are often not transparent.
Most older people want to live in their own homes for as long as they can, not in aged care facilities. This can be achieved for many by finding the right combination of formal and informal support for their individual circumstances.
The new program must take a customer service and rights-based approach and be genuinely focused on empowering and supporting older people and their carers to make care planning decisions.
A critical part of the new program will be a single assessment process and workforce enabling older people to establish and implement support plans based on professional advice and support.
The new program should have flexibility that allows older people to make choices about the suite of services they need and adjust arrangements on a weekly basis as circumstances change.
Regional stewardship by government, supported by good planning, data and evidence, should support local services and address service delivery gaps.
It is critical that consumers have clear, consistent, and transparent information about care, fees, and costs across all service categories in the Support at Home program to inform consumer decisions regarding the development and implementation of their care plan.
The right of older people to self-manage their in-home care should be a key principle of the new program.
In-Home services are an entitlement and received within 30 days of registration, consistent with a human rights approach.
The success of the In-Home Aged Care Program should be determined by achievement of the outcomes desired by older people and their carers receiving support by the program. The measurement of this will be gauged by regularly consulting with consumers as well as formal departmental and regulatory processes focused on outcomes.