A recently released exposure draft regarding funding rules for aged care facility upgrades is still flawed, penalising Australia’s leading aged care providers.
Under the policy introduced by the former Labor Government, aged care providers would be paid an extra $20/day when caring for low income residents if their aged care facility was either built after April 2012 or for older services “significantly refurbished”. Significant refurbishment was defined as improvements to the living environment at the rate of $10,000 per room. The intent of this policy was to encourage further investment in the aged care industry.
The Coalition government’s exposure draft has not altered this position and the inequity remains. The “significant refurbishment” policy is flawed because it favours providers which have neglected their aged care facilities, and punishes providers – like Superior Care Group – which invested in modern single room facilities requiring little upgrade prior to the 2012 policy announcement.
SCG’s new Merrimac Park Private Care opened in December 2011 and offers full single rooms with private ensuite, private telephones, personal air-conditioning and patios on all ground floor rooms. Under the government’s proposed rules Merrimac Park would be required to invest a further $1.0m in order to access the new government funding.
The government’s policy will discriminate between aged care facilities with comparable accommodation based purely on the date they were constructed. It is bad policy and punishes providers who have planned ahead and built modern services to meet the needs of the market.
SCG urges the new government to carefully consider the discriminatory effect of this policy and adopt a quality based approach, measuring services against a range of accommodation features expected in modern services.
Russell D Egan