The Southern Cross : June 2011
The final report by the Productivity Commission into the aged care system is expected to trigger a major overhaul of services after it is delivered to the Federal Government this month. The draft report -- Caring for Older Australians -- has identified a number of weaknesses in the aged care system. While over one million older people receive aged care services, it says the system is difficult to navigate, there are gaps in service coverage, user charges are inconsistent and inequitable, and the workforce is under pressure. The report outlines options to provide universal access to care, a focus on the needs of financially disadvantaged older people, and economic sustainability for not-for-profit providers. Catholic Health Australia has endorsed the Commission's proposed reforms, which will have an impact on smaller services, particularly approved providers who operate services of less than 40 beds. CHA is working with 18 religious-owned aged care providers likely to be impacted, and is available to aid any aged care service under the governance of a bishop. CHA Chief Executive Martin Laverty said the Commission's recommendations for improved financing of residential aged care accommodation would see the aged care bond system improved, without the need for the sale of family homes. "Aged care reform is hampered by a misunderstanding about bonds. The Commission proposes changes that will do away with the need for the sale of family homes by creating a government- backed equity release scheme." Deputy Chairman of the Productivity Commission, Mike Woods, who is presiding on the inquiry, said 'Older Australians generally want to remain independent and in control of how and where they live their lives. A single gateway would help them navigate the system. Other proposed reforms would make sure services were tailored to their needs, and they would have a greater choice of providers'. He said the Commission's proposed reforms would free up the system by removing limits on care packages and residential bed numbers, and distinctions between low, high and extra service residential care, but quality standards would remain. When a senior lecturer and program director at UniSA's Health Sciences School retired recently he was reported as saying: "I keep busy by helping out with community groups where I can...I think that's the key... we, and the generations after us, will be less of a burden if we keep as healthy as we can, and for as long as we can." Such a positive and hopeful attitude is both imperative and vital for anyone who has crossed 60, whether the person is still in the work force or has retired for legitimate reasons. Providentially we live in a highly favoured country that makes due provision for the wellbeing of our senior citizens, who have justifiably earned their right to a comfortable and fulfilling retirement. Undoubtedly South Australia is home to the nation's most senior population. To all intents and purposes this could seem to be an increasingly taxing burden. Instead, demographic and economic experts rightly predict that this de facto situation can present a promising opportunity to markedly boost the State's economy and to effectively remedy the current recurring shortage of skilled workers. Experience is indeed the best teacher -- so said the famous orator, Cicero. Even more, it is envisaged that working until the biblical age of three score and ten will soon be the norm rather than the exception for South Australians. This is realistically possible if those above 60 are afforded tax breaks and permitted to undertake part-time work that is less demanding and stressful. But fostering an attitudinal change is crucial to embracing the varied benefits of a mature-age workforce, as outlined in an Intergenerational Report. For instance, Graeme Hugo, a Professor of Geography at the Adelaide University, said that only recently had governments changed from a negative perception of an ageing workforce to a positive vision of the fulfilling opportunities that exist for one all. This, he adds, is not just good for the economy of the country, but, as mounting and conclusive research attests, augurs most favourably for the physical and personal well-being of our senior citizens. "Keeping them actively engaged, albeit at a less intense level, really is productive in terms of self-worth...so it can be a win-win for the economy and older people." (Ibid) In a word, every endeavour should be made to enable senior citizens to maximise their potential regardless of advancing age, changing status or personal condition. In the poignant words of a very wise author: "God does not look at our ability or our inability, but only at our availability." Fr James Valladares Diocesan Co-ordinator for the Ministry to Senior Citizens Archdiocese of Adelaide Experience is best teacher Major overhaul of aged care needed Stairs a problem? Call Mark or Sandy at Master Lifts on 8326 0972 MASTER LIFTS is Australia's largest supplier and installer of stair-lifts for those people having trouble with their stairs. Our stair-lifts can be installed inside or outside, they can be standing or seated models and we have models that can go around corners, if needed. MASTER LIFTS also have a large range of vertical lifts and wheelchair lifts. No-obligation measure & quotations Stair lift installation when you show your Seniors Card June 2011 Page 13 www.thesoutherncross.org.au Aged Care feature 'Aged care is hampered by a misunderstanding about bonds.'