The Budget and the Aged Care Royal Commission – will retirement villages prove to be the winner?

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While all the focus is on what the Federal Budget will deliver to the aged care sector, retirement village operators could also benefit from the Government’s response to the Royal Commission – provided they are proactive.

We have previously highlighted 38 Royal Commission recommendations that indirectly support villages – here are our predictions for those most likely to see the light of day.

Recommendation 4: Integrated long-term support and care for older people 8/10

One of the Commissioners’ key recommendations was the development of an integrated system for the long-term support and care of older people focusing on social isolation, affordable and appropriate housing, high quality health care, and aged care.

They argued that this should be achieved through a new National Cabinet Reform Committee on Ageing and Older Australians between the Australian and State and Territory Governments, with the goal of implementing such a system within 10 years.

Are villages likely to be considered under this plan? Currently, the chances appear low if the sector does nothing.

The Government needs to recognise the need to look at alternative forms of housing, and secondly look particularly at villages which don’t fall under their Federal remit.

However, were the sector pull together a proactive policy document highlighting their benefits and take it to Government, there is a compelling argument that villages are the natural solution to providing aged care services to ageing people in supported communities – see next point.

Recommendation 35: Care at home category 10/10

The Government has nominated home care as one of its five pillars to overhaul in the next five years.

Villages are the perfect location to receive care at home – residents pay for their own accommodation, saving the Government money, and will foot the bill for their own services under a ‘user pays’ system.

Services can be delivered efficiently and cost effectively – with one nurse or team visiting all of the residents who require nursing care.

This model also indirectly benefits the home care workforce – operators can contract home care providers to offer services to residents. With their clients in one location, workers who come into the village reduce their travel times and can built a relationship with their clients – which helps to keep them in the job for longer.

Recommendation 36: Care at home to include allied health care 9/10

Villages are also ideally positioned for older Australians to receive allied health care at home.

With gyms, pools and other community facilities available to residents, delivering services such as physiotherapy and occupational therapy is easier and again more efficient.

Recommendation 46: Capital grants for ‘small household’ models of accommodation 8/10

Commissioner Lynelle Briggs AO recommended that the Government put up to $1 billion in funding into small congregate models of living in aged care by 2025.

As the ‘bridge’ to residential care, villages could fill this gap with more assisted living and services apartment offerings, attracting a wider range of residents who want to avoid moving to higher care if possible.

In summary

The sector will still need to advocate strongly to Government to be considered as part of the ‘ageing solution’ – and it will take one to two years for the politicians to move forward on its aged care reforms.

Now is the time to be speaking to the politicians about the supportive role that villages could play.