Universal entitlement to aged care offers better choice for older Australians

A Productivity Commission recommendation for universal entitlement for aged care will see older Australians given new choice in selecting the type of services they need, and aged care providers better flexibility to respond to care needs.

Catholic Health Australia (CHA), representing aged care providers caring for one in ten of all Australian aged care clients, said older Australians would welcome the Commission's recommendations to enable client directed care.

CHA CEO Martin Laverty said "Consumers and providers alike have been wanting to end the current rationing system that means not all get access to the care they need."

"Just as all Australians have universal access to healthcare through Medicare, so to does the Commission suggest all older Australians should have access to aged care as an entitlement.

"The Commission proposes to simplify access to residential and community care by building new one stop shops -- The Australian Seniors Gateways -- to provide information, conduct assessments of need, and manage new care entitlements.

"CHA has been campaigning for new one stop shops to simplify access, and universal entitlement to ensure all older Australians regardless of financial means get the care they need.

"The Government is to be commended for having already commenced work on these one stop shops, which means they will likely soon become a reality."

Mr Laverty said Commission recommendations for improved financing of residential aged care accommodation would see the aged care bond system improved, without the need for the sale of family homes.

"Aged care reform is hampered by a misunderstanding about bonds. The Commission proposes changes that will do away with the need for the sale of family homes by creating a government backed equity release scheme."

Mr Laverty said Catholic aged care providers were now looking to work constructively with both the Commission and the Government to finalise the detail and transition plans to enable reform implementation to commence from the second half of 2011.

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