MEDIA RELEASE: Older Australians deserve more say about residential aged care

Leading seniors’ advocacy body, COTA Australia, today welcomed new government funding which will provide almost 10,000 older Australians access to new or refurbished residential aged care services, but also highlighted the need for new thinking to better meet the needs of our ageing population.

The Federal Minister for Aged Care, Ken Wyatt, announced an additional $649 million per year to invest in 9911 new residential aged care bed licences in the latest Aged Care Allocation Round (ACAR).

Chief Executive of COTA Australia, Ian Yates, praised the government for its commitment to continuing to improve the supply and distribution of residential aged care for older Australians.

However, Mr Yates urged government to reconsider the current ACAR process and move to a system that better meets demand for higher quality care where and from whom older people want it.

“Additional aged care beds are very welcome, together with the lots more Home Care Packages that are budgeted between now and 2020, but it’s time for government to set an early timetable for ending the ACAR process that acts as a restraint of trade on high quality aged care providers” Mr Yates said.

“While safeguarding beds to ensure adequate supply in some rural and remote areas where supply is thin makes sense, the current ACAR process requires radical reform to free up the supply of residential aged care in most of Australia.

“ACAR is no longer fit for purpose”, Mr Yates said, “It did play an important role in the past but it is now holding back innovation, competition between providers based on quality, and consumer choice and control.

“Aged care bed licences need to be put in the hands of residents and their families so they are free to use which provider they like and to move between providers by their own decision – just as now happens in home care packages since 27 February this year.

“The supply of those residential care places should also be uncapped to ensure we meet the demand for care and avoid having older people unable to care for themselves at home but on long waiting lists for an aged care bed.

“By letting market mechanisms dictate supply and demand, aged care providers will be able to deliver the highest quality of care and support to older Australians in both metropolitan and regional areas.

“Portability and choice, which are both now features of home care, are key to ensuring older Australians in residential care are also able to live more fulfilling, enriching lives and maintain their self-determination,” said Mr Yates.

“Older Australians deserve to be granted the fundamental right to decide themselves how they access aged care and support, not have that decided for them.

“COTA Australia looks forward to continuing to work with the government to progress current and future aged care reforms and ensuring older Australians receive care they need – how, where and from whom they want it.

Media contact: Ian Yates 0418 835 439, Bronte Kerr 0411 676 269

COTA Australia is the peak policy development, advocacy and representation organisation for older Australians, representing COTAs in every State and Territory and through them over 500,000 older Australians.