As the Australian public continue to digest the impact from the Federal Government’s 2018 Budget Announcement, the overall implications for the disability sector (National Disability Insurance Scheme or NDIS) and aged care sector appear to be quite positive – for providers and participants alike. We’ve tried to cover some key areas that service providers should be aware of.
The Aged Care sector, in particular, will receive a huge financial boost to manage Australia’s ageing population and ever-increasing demand for in-home care services. There is still scepticism as to whether this commitment is only scratching the surface when thinking about the real demands on the sector in the future.
Increased demand for in-home care services
The budget provides $1.6 billion over four years for 14,000 people to stay in their homes rather than nursing homes. The funding boost means close to 74,000 people will be able to access home care packages by mid-2022.
Increased demand for mental health services
For those who are in a nursing home, the Government is promising $83 million to address the drastic shortage of mental health services in residential aged care facilities.
Improving the quality of providers and standard of care they deliver
- The Government will establish an independent Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission in January 2019, bringing together the functions of the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency, the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner. This measure is aimed at holding providers more accountable and empowering Australians who use their services.
- Just over $250m has been allocated to helping to safeguard rights and protect people from abuse.
- $50m has been allocated to help providers meet new standards.
Access to services by Australia’s Indigenous people
A commitment of over $105m to improve access to aged care facilities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in remote communities.
The main piece of positive news for the NDIS was more related to the Federal Government’s funding commitment and provides real confidence for disability advocates. It is however still hard to ignore the long-term challenge facing the Scheme where Government services and supports are struggling to keep up due to the fast pace of its rollout.
In the weeks leading up to the 2018 Budget Announcement, there was significant concern from disability advocates that the scrapping of proposed 0.5 per cent Medicare levy rise to fully fund the NDIS – from last year’s federal budget – was now no longer necessary due to an improved fiscal position. They can now breathe a sigh of relief with Treasurer Scott Morrison announcing in his federal budget speech that the NDIS would be fully funded now and into the future -the NDIS is on track to be fully rolled out by 2020, with 140,000 Aussies now accessing the scheme.
Support services for NDIS Providers
As the NDIS readies itself to transition to a national regulatory framework (NDIS Quality and Safeguards Framework) from 1 July 2018, there were no signs in the Federal Budget of efforts to increase support services and for both providers (and participants). The ever-growing frustration when people call the NDIS’s 1800 number in addition to the lack of communication (particularly through the www.ndis.gov.au website) is frustrating at best.
Increasing the NDIS workforce
An extra $92.1 million will support people who aren’t yet eligible but are transitioning towards the NDIS, and a jobs fund will be launched with an additional $64m to add more NDIS support workers.
What are your thoughts on the 2018 Federal Budget for service providers?
Aged Care Quality and Safeguarding: Toward a New, Single Aged Care Quality Framework
The Australian Government Department of Health is attempting to cut through the Aged Care compliance red tape with the introduction of a single quality framework, due to take effect from 1 July 2018.
As many Aged Care providers are well aware, the Aged Care system is highly regulated, particularly if you are delivering multiple Aged Care service types. To simplify regulatory requirements, the Australian Government will release a Single Aged Care Quality Framework that comprises a single set of aged care standards for all aged care services. The Framework will include a streamlined approach to assessing provider performance against the standards, as well as improved information on quality to help clients make choices about the care and services they need.
The new Standards will replace:
- Accreditation Standards;
- Home Care Standards;
- National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flexible Aged Care Program Quality Framework Standards; and
- Transition Care Standards.
The standards are currently being finalised, however, the draft standards are:
- Consumer dignity, autonomy and choice;
- Ongoing assessment and planning with consumers;
- Delivering personal care and/or clinical care;
- Delivering lifestyle services and supports;
- Service environment;
- Feedback and complaints;
- Human resources; and
- Organisational governance.
They will apply to all aged care services including residential care, home care and flexible care, with flexibility around how they are applied to different services.
Preparation and Support
The Australian Aged Care Quality Agency is working with the aged care industry, consumers and other key stakeholders to develop guidelines and supporting material for the draft. Amergin can help you get registered and maintain ongoing compliance.
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Becoming a Provider under the Australian Aged Care System
Like most things in Australia’s political sphere, the media’s focus is generally directed toward those issues, initiatives, and people that offer a controversial or contentious story for the next day’s headlines.
The NDIS has certainly provided such a platform, which has seen sustained media coverage, from its inception through to now where the Scheme’s rollout is well underway across the country.
There is no doubt that the NDIS will be a great system for Australians with a permanent or severe disability. It replaces an archaic, unfair and fragmented disability system that left Australians with disability little, with regard to choice and control, to improve their quality of life.
It must be said however that the ongoing teething issues emerging as the Scheme rolls out are proving to be problematic for both participants and disability service providers respectively. These issues range from poor communication to pricing to poorly constructed participant plans.
Aged Care Provider Opportunity
However, as the relevant Government agencies look to knock these issues into place and drive the Scheme forward, there is another Scheme that is quietly experiencing its own evolution – the Australian Aged Care system.
Like the NDIS, Aged Care Home Care has shifted toward a person centred, or ‘consumer-directed care’ model – meaning people over 65 will get more choice and flexibility as to how they choose and receive these services.
These reforms began in 2012 and are part of a 3-phased process that will stretch out over 10 years. Like the NDIS, the transformation of the Aged Care sector is presenting a huge opportunity for businesses looking to deliver aged care services like Home Care. With Australia’s ageing population, the demand for these services is steadily increasing – a plus for providers looking to deliver quality, innovative services to Australians over 65.
If you would like to find out more about becoming an Aged Care Provider, download our free information guide and learn how we can assist in navigating the process.
Becoming an Approved Aged Care Provider can be a time-consuming and complex process. Get your free guide today!