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The Forum > Article Comments > Spin wonít make 'high care' aged care sector sustainable > Comments

Spin wonít make 'high care' aged care sector sustainable : Comments

By Jeremy Sammut, published 17/7/2008

It is politically convenient to bash 'greedy' and 'slack' aged care companies, but spin wonít create a sustainable funding model.

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The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow-witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already; but the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of doubt, what is laid before him.
Tolstoy

The comforting caricature of aged care providers as "greedy", and exploitative of old people is enduring and convenient.

It just isnít true.

Aged care providers and staff are no different from others in the community; the overwhelming majority want the very best for the elderly for the very best of reasons.

Unfortunately, they are often victims of self-interest disguised as altruism.

The community expects top-quality aged care services (an expectation compounded by guilt often manifested in the harshest criticism of providers).

However, someone else has to pay for it.

Residents shouldn't (the inheritance must remain intact), the kids canít (they have financial commitments and care is very expensive) so the burden falls disproportionately on the taxpayer.

No one argues that government shouldnít bear a large part of the cost particularly on behalf of those with no capacity to pay for themselves and for monitoring quality and enforcing the highest possible standards.

Modern facilities cost more than the taxpayer is prepared to pay and providers and staff ,courtesy of little or no profitability and low wages are not prepared to subsidise the system any longer.

Itís not this Governmentís fault - these problems didn't appear suddenly in November 2007. Theyíve been evident for years.

We must face the challenge of funding the huge number of modern places required.

Accommodation bonds should be considered as one of many options. Residents and families should make their own decisions about how best to use residents assets for their own benefit.

One recent review of the sector noted providers maintaining liquidity (as demanded by lenders as a standard loan condition) by reducing staff.

That canít continue.

The present government can put the former to shame and create a sustainable ,financially equitable aged care system.

Jim Toohey
An Aged Care Provider
Posted by Xerxes, Thursday, 17 July 2008 3:44:07 PM
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Correct me if I am wrong, but from what I have read, the distinction between low and high level aged care is because the average stay in a high-level place is only a matter of months on average. In these circumstances, it would be unfair to force a sale of the family home in what might be an unfavourable market, in circumstances where the nursing home would receive relatively little benefit. I agree that more money is needed to provide decent care, but the way to go might be through an inheritance tax instead, to allow some burden sharing, instead of all it falling on the family whose relative was unlucky enough to need a nursing home.
Posted by Divergence, Friday, 18 July 2008 11:15:17 AM
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Divergence:

I'm sure that this was part of the thinking behind the decision to exempt the high care sector from the accomodation bond system: that high care was a substitute for 'end of life' care in hospitals.

But as the latest statistics show (http://www.aihw.gov.au/mediacentre/2008/mr20080612.cfm) the average stay in high care facilties is increasing and is now almost three years.

To speculate, the people who are going to need high care for a longer time in the future are likely to be those suffering dementia, who maybe otherwise relatively healthy in body. I don't think, in these circumstances, most children are going to begrudge losing temporary control of their inheritance so their parent receives good quality care. If they do - then they don't deserve their inheritance.

Inheritance tax is an interesting idea but I doubt politicians would run with it. The benefit of bonds is that bond giver is a customer and has choices, and this will free up the aged care industry from current dependence on government funding. Further to this, how much of an inheritance tax would end up going into aged care, how much would end up in general revenue and expenditure
Posted by Jeremy Sammut, Friday, 18 July 2008 2:52:56 PM
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