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CORAL Rizzalli is tired. The 72-year-old has spent her entire life caring for sick and disabled family members and is desperate for some reprieve, but the system is failing her family.
Ms Rizzalli is the full-time carer for her sister, 67-year-old Dawn Steine who has spina bifida, osteoporosis and other heath complications and has been on a waiting list since April last year for full in-home care.
Ms Steine lives in a granny flat on Ms Rizzalli’s property where she moved after Cyclone Yasi destroyed the family home.
AGED-CARE providers, medics and professional organisations will join forces today to call on all political parties to commit to end the rationing system that leaves many older Australians without the assistance they need.
In an effort to insert the issue into the election campaign, the 40 member organisations of the National Aged Care Alliance will argue that too many elderly wait too long for care in the home or have to move long distances to get into a nursing home.
Are you entitled to aged care?
Imagine if you had reached the age at which you qualify for the Australian aged pension and you went into Centrelink and were told “I’m sorry, but you miss out because only 116 people out of every 1000 people of pension age actually get a pension. All the pensions for this area are taken at the moment and you will have to wait until there is a vacancy.”
Obviously this is an absurd scenario – or is it?
Aged care in Australia is rationed. A ratio of residential places and home care packages is set for every 1000 people over the age of 70. Under the Living Longer Living Better reforms this number will rise to 125 (combined) for every 1000 people. This will create a greater supply but there will still be waiting lists – that is, people who have been assessed as requiring care but who cant get it immediately because there aren’t any “vacancies”.
The Australian National Aged Care Alliance (NACA) has a vision of the future where everyone who requires aged care gets it. That is, they are entitled to it and it is delivered when it is needed.
Does this sound utopian? Lets look at it another way.
Do Australians believe that older people who require care should get care? Or – do Australians believe that only a certain number of older people who require care (say 116 out of every 10000 who might need it) should get it?
COTA CEO Ian Yates sketched the hypothetical scenario of a rationing of pensions to highlight the absurdity of the aged care planning ratio when compared with an entitlement to care, at the highly successful and stimulating COTA National Policy Forum in Canberra yesterday.
The NACA wanted a system based on entitlement to aged care to be introduced through the Government’s response to the Productivity Commission report on aged care in Australia. Instead the Government continued with (an albeit increased, over time) rationing approach.
Yates indicated that COTA will campaign on this issue at the forthcoming election- that is, continue to push for a system based on entitlement. The comparison with the aged pension is a powerful one. If people of a certain age who meet certain requirements are entitled to a pension then why is it that we accept that people of a certain age who meet certain requirements are not entitled to receive aged care – rather than just be assessed as being eligible for it?
Dozens of elderly people are stuck in Canberra’s hospitals waiting for places in aged care facilities as homes opened last year reach capacity much earlier than expected.
Care providers say they are caught between blockages in the system and the expectations of residents and their families.
According to ACT Health, there were a total of 52 elderly patients awaiting placement in the public system in mid May, including 29 patients at the Canberra Hospital.
I am following up on my story submitted last year. I have received an income increase of 0.6% and my retirement village fees increased by 5.4%. I am now starting to wonder when, with these increases, I will no longer be able to afford to live in a retirement village.
I thought I was secure and could now relax in my old age??
Living with these worries is not what I would have chosen. But the information provided when buying in told me that cost increases would be kept to CPI increases,”except……..” What I did not realise is that the exceptions ARE the rule.
And – what do I do then?
With over 3.6 million people expected to need health assistance as part of the future aged care system, industry stakeholders must discuss the issues posed by an ageing population. By Amie Larter
It was a round-table discussion in 2012 that began the dialogue. Just Better Care convened a meeting to bring together the private sector and government to sit down and discuss what they believe would be the biggest issues facing the aged care industry.
Social demographer Bernard Salt, Inaugural Australian Business Woman of the Year Vera Randall, founder of Just Better Care franchises Trish Noakes, Andrew Constance, NSW Minister for Ageing and Disability Services and NSW Shadow Minister for Ageing and Shadow Minister for Disability Services Barbara Perry, were among the attendees.
Panellists brought extensive knowledge from a range of industries, including technology, architecture and urban planning, government perspective and social reform.
Intensive lobbying from aged care providers and other stakeholder groups for a range of amendments to the five aged care bills currently before the parliament has been rewarded with a number of recommendations making it into the report of the Senate Standing Committee on Community Affairs’ inquiry into the five aged care bills which underpin the Government’s Living Longer, Living Better [LLLB] reform package.
The 236 page report, released late on Friday 31 May, includes three main components – an eight chapter majority report containing 13 recommendations; a dissenting report from the Coalition Senators; and ‘additional comments’ and recommendations from the Australian Greens.
According to analysis from Catholic Health Australia (CHA), six* of the 13 recommendations made in the majority report, if supported, would involve amendments to the LLLB bills.
Key recommendations in the majority report also recommend that current references to the Workforce Supplement in the bill be retained, and that the Government examine whether it may be appropriate to revise the Supplement guidelines to permit, in some circumstances, the use of the Workforce Supplement in meeting employee entitlements.
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Source: Australian Ageing Agenda 11 December 2012
The Aged Care Standards and Accreditation Agency has joined forces with aged care industry peak bodies in NSW, Queensland, South Australia and the Northern Territory to offer the Understanding Accreditation course to association members.
The Understanding Accreditation course is a practical toolkit for aged care facilities, organised and run by the Accreditation Agency.
Now, the course will be hosted and promoted by the industry associations, and still supported and facilitated by Accreditation Agency trainers.
Accreditation Agency CEO, Mark Brandon, said working with industry associations to deliver education and training was an ideal way of reaching a broader audience.
“The more people that do this course, the better – for staff, management and for residents,” Mr Brandon said.
The move, announced today, follows on from the development of a successful partnership with LASA Victoria to deliver the same accreditation course.
CEO of LASA Victoria John Begg: “Since July 2010, LASA Victoria has enjoyed a successful partnership with the Agency, one that has enabled 293 participants across 101 organisations to complete the Understanding Accreditation course. We look forward to continuing this partnership into 2013 and beyond.” more
Source: Australian Ageing Agenda 11 Dec 2012
An online information sharing tool for health professionals about best practice in managing continence has just been launched by the Continence Foundation of Australia.
The Australian Continence Exchange (ACE) provides resources on continence management consolidated from a range or sources around the world for health professionals to access and a platform for them to share ideas.
Continence Foundation of Australia chief executive Barry Cahill said: “Health professionals can be alerted to professional development opportunities, connect with other clinicians to chat about continence care, and download a wide range of resources.”
Those resources include the latest research reports and clinical guidelines, the consumer information library, product supplier directories, expert video presentations and information about continence subsidy schemes.
ACE also provides a list of news and events and education opportunities plus a platform for health professionals to share ideas via an online forum.
“The live forum is a great tool for specialist and non-specialist professionals to ask questions, gain peer support and advice, and learn about new research findings,” Mr Cahill said.
ACE is administered by the Continence Foundation of Australia and funded the Department of Health and Ageing under the National Continence Program.
Source: Australian Ageing Agenda 11 Dec 2012
Older men suffering from depression are at higher risk of hospitalisation for non-psychiatric conditions, says Winthrop Professor Osvaldo Almeida from the Western Australian Centre for Health and Ageing
Strategies that identify and manage older people with depression are needed to prevent hospital admissions and reduce health care costs, says a leading geriatric psychiatry researcher.
The call follows findings in a study by the Western Australian Centre for Health and Ageing (WACHA) that depressed older men are twice as likely to be admitted to hospital as their counterparts not suffering depression.
Older men suffering from depression were at higher risk of hospitalisation for non-psychiatric conditions, said Winthrop Professor Osvaldo Almeida, senior investigator on the study and director of research at WACHA.
“Our results indicate that we must tackle the issue of depression in later life if we are serious about optimising the use of limited hospital resources available to the Australian population,” said Prof Almeida, who is chair of geriatric psychiatry at the University of Western Australia.
The research, which was published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal yesterday, looked at 5411 Perth men aged 69 years and older.
According to an assessment of depressive symptoms using the 15-item Geriatric Depression Scale, 6.3 per cent of participants had moderate to severe depression. more