Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
11 Apr 2012
In a pull-no-punches Forum on Aged Care at the National Press Club today, Mr Laverty said unless aged care legislation was urgently overhauled not only would many older Australians miss out on aged care but the shortfall in residential aged care homes would continue to escalate.
"The current rationing of aged care means of the 24,000 applications for community aged care services made last year, a mere 1800 were approved," he said.
Speaking on behalf of CHA which represents 500 aged care residential and community aged care services, Mr Laverty spoke of the inconsistencies of current aged care laws which he said were designed for a 1960s Australia and were inconsistent, confusing, complicated and unable to meet the needs and wishes of today's older Australians.
"But when the needs of this Sydney man changed, the hours of care delivered to his home could not be expanded and he was forced to move into a residential aged care, needlessly separating him from his wife," he said.
Another example Mr Laverty gave of the inconsistencies of current laws was the case of a wealthy resident who sold her home for several million dollars prior to moving into to a high care facility for the aged. Despite being able to afford such care, current aged care laws, limit the cost of high care accommodation to just $32 per day, or $37 less than the $67 daily charge to Sydney Backpackers at Central Station.
The outmoded laws and lack of government action also mean that providers operated at a loss of $62 per bed each day.
"This is the reason some providers are not building new services to meet growing demands," he said.
"Over the past three years 7000 beds offered by the government have been knocked back by providers. As a result, Australia will be 120 aged care homes short of the current government target and result in some Australians missing out on residential care," he warned.
Mr Laverty and the other members of the National Aged Care Alliance taking part in today's forum called on the Government and Opposition to implement the recommendations made by the Productivity Commission in its report: "Caring for Older Australians."
"We support the Commission's recommendation for residents to be given the option of paying rent if they can, which would ensure no one is ever forced to sell their former home," he said. "CHA and the Alliance also support fully refundable bonds to operate across residential aged care services for those who choose to pay them."
Earlier this week Alzheimer's released a damning report of Australia's aged care system and its failure to meet the needs of the nation's 280,000 dementia sufferers, a number that is expected to rise to 400,000 over the next 10 years.
But instead of addressing Australia's fast growing ageing population, yesterday's Australian Financial Review predicted that in the government's determination to achieve a surplus, the aged care sector was set to take a $2 billion hit in this year's budget.
In a bid to cut back on $7 billion taxpayer funded subsidies, it is believed the Government is investigating an option that would mean a 5% cut in subsidies to nursing homes to cover the costs of employing staff to help residents eat, bathe and go to the toilet.