Major Aged Care Reforms in 2024: What to expect
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Recommendations of the Aged Care Task Force: A Summary for Residential Aged Care Providers

26/03/24
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In June 2023 the Government established an “Aged Care Taskforce” to review the aged care system and build on recommendations by the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety. The Taskforce released its Final Aged Care Taskforce Report on 12 March 2024, making 23 recommendations. Here is a short summary to help residential aged care providers understand the Taskforce and its recommendations.

 

The Taskforce

The Taskforce consisted of 16 members with “broad experience and expertise across health and aged care,
banking and finance, economics and public policy including representatives of providers, current and future
aged care participants, younger people, and diverse cohorts”. It was chaired by the Minister for Aged Care and Sport. 

The Taskforce held monthly meetings from June to December 2023 and collected information from sources including various surveys, forums, targeted roundtables, and written submissions.

 

Overview of the Recommendations

Overall, the Taskforce determined the need for an "aged care system that is sustainable, fair, and facilitates greater innovation in the sector".

The Taskforce cited the Australian Government’s Intergenerational Report 2023, which revealed that over the next 40 years the number of people over 80 years of age is expected to triple to more than 3.5 million. According to the Taskforce, this has two significant implications:

  • The taxation burden for funding aged care services grows for a segment of the population that is becoming proportionally smaller.
  • Gaps in the aged care workforce increase, creating significant ongoing challenges to delivering quality care.

In light of these implications, the Taskforce made recommendations that fall under these overarching categories:

  • Support older people to age in place
  • Equitable and sustainable funding
  • Quality, innovation and transparency

This article focuses on what residential aged care providers need to know, so we will leave aside the first dot point (which relates more to home care) and focus on the second and third.

 

Equitable and Sustainable Funding

With higher life expectancies and an increasing aged population, demand for the aged care sector is only going to grow. In response, the Taskforce emphasised the need for more predictable and sustainable funding for residential aged care.

According to the Taskforce, government funding makes up approximately 75% of total residential aged care funding. This is not an “optimal or fair mix”, and with an aged population that is not only growing in size but also in wealth, the Taskforce recommended that participant co-contributions should be increased for those who can afford it.

The Taskforce found that older people support increased co-contributions so long as they correspond with a higher quality of care. As such, with increased transparency into how funds are utilised to improve the quality of aged care services, older people will be more willing to increase their co-contributions, leading to more sustainable funding for aged care providers.

However, the Taskforce noted that the Government will continue to be the major funder of aged care with funding focusing on care costs along with providing services for those with less means and covering thin markets.

 

Quality, Innovation and Transparency

Quality

The Taskforce underscored the need for maintaining high standards of care, insisting that providers must prioritise resident well-being, safety, and dignity.

According to the Taskforce, since the Royal Commission’s investigation into high levels of substandard care, quality has improved with an increase in funding. The Taskforce recommended a continued increase in funding in conjunction with improved transparency from aged care providers regarding the utilisation of funds and what services are included for the price.

 

Innovation and Technology

The Taskforce encouraged the fostering of innovation within the sector and urged providers to explore technological solutions to increase efficiency, communication, and residents’ experiences overall.

Current financial viability issues are limiting innovation within the aged care sector. The Taskforce observed that when financial sustainability issues are addressed, providers will be better equipped to provide innovative improvements in the form of IT-based solutions, better physical environment design practices, and “better worker-focused solutions such as [more efficient] rostering systems”.

 

Workforce Development

With the size of the population aged 65 and over growing faster than the working-age population, the aged care workforce may be stretched thin. The Taskforce noted that significant work needs to be done to improve “workforce attraction and retention issues”. The Taskforce underlined that these issues trace back to a lack of sustainable funding.

 

Transparency and Accountability

The Taskforce identified that a greater level of transparency and accountability among providers would greatly improve older peoples’ ability for informed decision making and planning.

According to the Taskforce, providers should actively share detailed information on how they spend funding and the level of quality that services provide. It is also vital to share information regarding the costs of aged care, financial products that support spending in retirement, and advice on how older people can best access their assets.

 

More Information

You can read the full report on the Department of Health’s website.

 

Aged Care Reform Guide 2024

 

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About the Author

Michael Dreiling

Michael is a content and data administrator at Ideagen. He is currently studying Commerce and Design at the University of New South Wales.

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