Aged Care Assessment Rounds - 2008 - 2009
The process for planning the annual allocation and distribution of residential, community and flexible aged care places is set out in the Aged Care Act 1997. On a yearly basis additional aged care places are made available for distribution in each state and territory, and are allocated on the basis of national population projections and demographic change. The places are distributed between regional, rural and remote areas, as well as between different levels of care.
Australians now have one of the longest life expectancies in the world. This most recent 2008-2009 Aged Care Assessment Rounds (ACAR) application process has reflected the growing need and importance of government assistance programs in this area.
Currently 2.8 million Australians, approximately 13 percent of the population, are aged 65 years or older. It is anticipated that this number will triple within the next 40 years.
Over the next three years, the Government will create more than 37,000 new aged care places to assist in the growing need for aged care. This is in addition to the existing 221,144 aged care beds and community care places.
On 8 November 2008 Applications were invited for the 10,447 places for over $44 million in capital grants and Community Care and/or Flexible Care Grants.
The Minister for Ageing, Ms Justine Elliott MP, recently issued two Media Releases (30 January 2009 and 2 February 2009) in relation to the ACAR. Ms Elliott notes that Australia’s aged care providers have acknowledged that the future of the aged care sector must see an expansion in the provision of support and care for older Australians in their own homes through community care places. It has become evident that older Australians are healthier and more active and that they wish to remain in their homes and only want to enter nursing homes when it is absolutely necessary.
Preliminary national data has shown that the aged care sector has sought 27,039 community care places for the 2,784 places on offer from the Australian Government in the 2008-2009 ACAR.
Ms Elliott has commented that: “This is about encouraging a strong community care sector and a healthy residential aged care one which is there when it is needed by older Australians.” Further, Mrs Elliot commented that the Australian Government is looking at ways to expand community care in the future.
Last financial year, 61,739 older Australians received care at home through a community care or flexible care package. At the same time 208,079 people used nursing home or hostel care.
In addition, the Australian and State and Territory governments assist more than 800,000 people each year through Home and Community Care programs.
Currently, the Government funds three community care packages for older Australians:
- Community Aged Care Packages (CACP) which provide six-to-eight hours of in home support through personal care, meal preparation and domestic services for people who would otherwise require low-level residential aged care;
- Extended Aged Care at Home (EACH) which provides up to 18 hours of specialised care with a clinical component for people who would likely use high-level nursing home care; and,
- The specialised Extended Aged Care at Home Dementia Packages (EACHD) which provide targeted care for people with dementia and behavioural problems to assist them to remain in their own homes. It has become apparent that dementia is one of the major reasons why older people enter residential aged care and/or seek assistance from community care programs.
According to the Government, as at June 2008, there were almost 40,000 CACP packages, more than 4,200 EACH packages and more than 2,000 EACHD packages in Australia.
Due to the increasing need for aged care assistance the Australian Government is developing a Charter of Rights and Responsibilities for community care. In doing so, the Government is consulting with consumers, aged care providers and other interested groups.
The Australian Government also received a healthy and competitive response to the ACAR residential 2008-2009 aged care bed application process. A summary has found that there were 13,956 applications for 7,663 places.
On 2 February 2009 the Australian Government released a break-down of the applications for nursing home places - showing providers are overwhelmingly seeking high care beds. Numbers show that two-thirds of the residential aged care places applied for were for high-level care places.
ACAR Assessments of the applications are underway and final decisions are expected by mid-year.
Dominique Egan, Partner