Future care solutions need legislative balance

The Retirement Living Council (RLC) is urging the Australian Government to keep one eye on the future in its redrafting of the Aged Care Act as the nation continues to age and require care and support options.

In its submission to government, the RLC has provided eight key recommendations that enable individual choice, sustainable funding arrangements, and innovation in the care system.

“It is no longer possible to consider the future of aged care without discussing the important housing and health value proposition of privately funded retirement communities,” RLC Executive Director Daniel Gannon said.

“The aged care system is failing to keep up with current demand, let alone the ‘silver tsunami’ we know is coming.

“Australia is experiencing a dramatic demographic shift, propelled by an ageing population. Over the course of the next decade and a half, the number of people aged over 75 is expected to increase by 70 per cent, with this cohort increasing from 2 million to 3.4 million.

“These changes will have far-reaching implications and, to meet what will be significantly increased demand for aged care services, these reforms must facilitate new and innovative models for the provision of care, not impede them,” he said.

Mr Gannon said that while the RLC supports the consumer-led approach taken in the Draft Aged Care Bill, the government should be wary of unintended consequences associated with over-regulation.

“Too many legislative barriers can dissuade good operators from entering the market, which stifles necessary innovation in the seniors’ care industry,” Mr Gannon said.

“The sector can grow to meet the increasing demands of our ageing demographics while still increasing the quality of care being provided, but only if the right regulatory framework is in place.”

Mr Gannon said while the retirement living industry is often confused with aged care, age-friendly communities lead to healthier and happier older Australians.

“Retirement villages across the country are helping save the Australian government $945 million every year by delaying residents’ entry into aged care,” he said.

“They achieve this through better designed homes that minimise trips and falls, which also means residents are experiencing fewer visits to the GP, shorter hospital stays and leading to reduced interactions with healthcare systems,” he said.

The RLC’s eight key recommendations from its submission include:

  • That the report timeframe be adjusted to receive and understand the recommendations of the Aged Care Taskforce as well as the currently unpublished Rules.
  • Further clarity surrounding the addition of retirement villages as a potential residential care home for the purposes of government funding.
  • Explanation of the interaction between the Bill and the relevant state and territory Retirement Villages Acts as well as the National Construction Code.

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