A Productivity Commission draft report into caring for older Australians recommends a rethink on how aged care facilities are funded and how residents pay for their accommodation.

Australia’s aged care sector is already overstretched, the report found, with 3.6 million Australians expected to rely on care facilities by 2050. Only reform can avert an imminent crisis, Council on the Ageing CEO Ian Yates told ABC Radio today.

“The general directions are consistent with the submissions that we’ve made and will result in improved choice for aged care consumers, for better services, for more equitable funding and for an aged care system that’s going to be sustainable for the next 25 years,” he said.

With the final report to be released in June, after some 487 submissions, Crikey brings you some of the highlights:

Sue Pieters-Hawke

The daughter of Bob and Hazel Hawke believes there is not enough knowledge about dementia, a disease that has been stigmatised and is viewed negatively due to societal attitudes. She said there is a disparity between “good dementia care practice, and most current practice”. Pieters-Hawke wants a rethink on aged care facilities and practices, calling for the Commission to ensure systems allow for best-practice in dementia care that is affordable for all Australians.

Tender Loving Cuisine

CEO Jack Barker is proposing a rebate system similar to that of the Child Care Rebate, but for elderly Australians who can no longer cook for themselves, but do not want to be moved to an aged facility. The rebate would be run through Medicare to subsidise the services which would “curb the ever growing demand on the hospital system and high care nursing facilities”. TLC argues these meals would improve the quality of life and alleviate the cost of living for elderly Australians.

Gay and Lesbian Solidarity

This support group argues that GLBTI ageing issues have been neglected by research and action around ageing — including a lack of training for those working in aged care. In the submission there are a number of letters and documents which say even though same-s-x couples are recognised in pension arrangements, many now fear being outed due to the torment and violence endured as younger years. The submission urges to have cushioning for “vulnerable old people” who fear coming out in their aged care facility.

The National Rural Health Alliance

According to the Alliance, elderly Australians in rural areas are finding it difficult to access service providers, and believes the Gillard government’s National Health and Hospitals Network proposal for a one-stop shop for information about aged care is a step in the right direction. They note this will help older people and their families navigate a complex system, but have concerns for others who do not have family, a health professional or community worker to help them. The Alliance believes mobile services in rural areas would assist these people. The Alliance also believes in greater flexibility and quality of life options for older Australians in rural areas, in care and education.

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists

RANZCP is particularly concerned with ensuring the models for care are evidence-based and integrated into any reform. Its focus is on management of dementia through detection and recognising behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia or BPSD, such as psycosis, depression, agitation and aggression as they are a leading factor in the stress of carers. The RANZCP also recommends personalised care, integrating the carer and patient for more effective treatment.

Peter Fray

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