According to coalition of 28 groups, including health professionals, unions and charitable organisations the aged-care system in Australia needs to be overhauled and improved to avoid an imminent crisis. They warn that the aged-care system, designed in the 1960s needs to be revamped.
The coalition yesterday launched the Australians Deserve to Age Well campaign, to seek an overhaul of a system that will need to support 3.5 million Australians by 2050. That represents a more than threefold increase on the current load, said Ian Yates, Council of the Ageing chief.
The coalition, which includes the Australian Healthcare & Hospital Association and the Health Services Union, will also ask Australians to share the challenges they have experienced in the system.
It has called for bipartisan support for the recommendations of the Productivity Commission's report entitled Caring For Older Australians, released in August. The commission suggested older Australians contribute up to $60,000 for aged care and face “uncapped” charges for nursing-home accommodation.
“Many older Australians are already struggling to find the services they need to continue to live at home or are on long waiting lists for residential care,” Mr Yates said. “Just trying to find out where to go for information on aged care is so complicated that even the most educated professionals struggle to work it out. Both government and opposition must commit to implement the Productivity Commission's recommendations now,” he sad.
Martin Laverty, chief executive of Catholic Health Australia, said the system was underfunded for future needs. “If we don't build new residential care facilities now there will be a chronic shortage of beds in three, four and 20 years' time,” he said. “Yet as the current system stands there is a disincentive for investment in this area.”
Reforms were also needed to attract 500,000 more workers the system will need by 2050, Australian Nursing Federation secretary Lee Thomas said. “There is a shortage of about 20,000 nurses in aged care now,” she said. “Low pay and poor conditions for all aged-care workers, including personal care workers, also mean high staff turnover and low retention rates…Bi-partisan commitment is needed now to improve the working lives of all aged-care workers or we’ll see a rapid decline in the quality of aged care in the short term,” she said.