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Thursday, April 25, 2024

Home care reform needed to ride ‘silver tsunami’

The Retirement Living Council (RLC) is urging the Australian government to draw on the power of retirement communities by reimagining how it funds and delivers home care services to older Australians.

In its submission to the government ahead of the May Budget, the RLC is calling for the introduction of a ‘Shared Care’ framework, which would see retirement living communities funded to provide home care services directly to residents living in their villages. 

RLC Executive Director, Daniel Gannon said retirement living communities are “perfectly placed” to help provide home care services to support their residents to live healthy, independent lives for longer.

“With the number of Australians over the age of 75 set to grow by 70 per cent by 2040, it’s not possible to talk about the future of care and the demand for these services without considering the important housing and health value proposition of the retirement living industry,” Mr Gannon said.

“The reality is that hundreds of thousands of Aussies call a retirement community home, and the policy approach to home care should reflect that.

“We can’t address the aged care crisis by simply throwing more and more tax dollars at it, and the privately funded retirement living sector is ready and willing to play its part.

“Retirement communities can deliver better outcomes, experiences and value for older Australians accessing care – and there are benefits for government too.

“More than one million Australians currently utilise home care services, ranging from transport to personal care.

“Some of these people are waiting for up to a year to access home care funding, and sadly a third of this funding is lost to administration fees before it can be used,” he said.

Mr Gannon said the RLC has prepared a new framework – Shared Care – to deliver greater efficiencies for consumers, government, and care providers.

“This report paves a path for government to make the delivery of home care almost 20 per cent more efficient, meaning that older Australians would receive more care per dollar invested,” Mr Gannon said.

“These efficiencies would ultimately save the commonwealth up to $100 million per year, which is a win-win for consumers and government alike.

“This ‘shared care’ approach would provide three models for retirement village operators to deliver community-based care services under the Support at Home program within the village setting, either independently or through a delivery partner.

“These models have been developed to show that significant efficiencies and savings to consumers and government can be achieved, even at moderate levels of uptake, with no cost to government.

“This is because retirement villages provide scale for delivering these services efficiently and cost effectively by reducing travel costs incurred by service providers, increasing the frequency of service delivery, and enhancing the quality and suite of services by leveraging those already in place at these communities,” he said.

View the RLC’s full Federal Budget submission here.

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