On Tuesday night, the DCM team attended StewartBrown’s Aged Care Sector update ahead of next Tuesday’s Federal Budget. Senior Partner Grant Corderoy presented his predictions to the crowd of around 50 CEOs and senior executives – and there were several key messages.
‘Stop-gap’ funding for the sector:
Grant predicted the Budget will deliver more than the $2.5 billion a year over four years touted in the media recently – but not much more.
The Budget will focus on fixing today’s issues, but more money will be needed to fund future reforms particularly around workforce, he said, noting current workforce turnover is around 28-30%.
“The Government can’t kick that can down the road,” he said.
The Basic Daily Care Fee will likely be raised for at least the next couple of years to fill the gap – but while this will help provider sustainability, it won’t improve profitability.
Recommendations 25 and 28 are key:
Grant named the siloing of the aged care sector as the biggest deterrent to reform. He labelled the recommendation for a single aged care program – and the accompanying recommendation for a streamlined assessment process – as therefore key to moving forward.
Grant pointed out that only 45% of older Australians receiving aged care services – the majority (55%) pass away on a Home Care Package – a fact he says the Royal Commission ignored.
A single basic screening followed by a comprehensive assessment will ensure consumers are linked with services along with better transparency and distribution of funding.
If an individual needs increased care, this can then be linked to their funding.
New home care payments in arrears will require a stiff Scotch:
The next stage of the Government’s home care in arrears payment arrangements will hit operators hard.
Grant described the recently released guidance for home care providers on the changes as “almost impossible to understand”.
You can read the guidelines here.
Stage 2 – which starts from 1 September 2021 and will see the Government only pay home care providers only for the actual care and services delivered to their care recipients – will require a significant amount of paperwork and investment in IT services, Grant said.
“I don’t mind that the funding is in arrears,” he said, “but this is the bluntest instrument of all.”
The measures will require operators to produce detailed monthly statements for their clients as well as liaise with both the Government and Services Australia on unspent funds.
Grant advised operators not to opt into the new system now and choose the option to acquit by provider – not at the client level.
“You will have to communicate with your software vendors now to have your systems changed.”