In welcoming today the release of the Productivity Commission’s Final Report Caring for Older Australians, Carers Australia’s President Tim Moore said that if the recommendations in the report were adopted by government, the lives of older Australians and their carers should be substantially improved.
Mr Moore said that "carers provide the majority of direct care to older Australians – their role is fundamental to the operation of Australia’s system of aged care. For the most part this care is provided in the older person’s home but in many cases an older person continues to have a close relationship with their carer after they enter a residential aged care facility. Carers make an enormous contribution to the Australian community, often unseen and involving considerable personal commitment."
Carers Australia supports the broad thrust of the Commission’s recommendations because they promise to address unmet need and give older Australians an entitlement to care based on assessed need and financial capacity to contribute. The recommendations offer older Australians choice in deciding where they live and in the standard of their accommodation as well as in the mix and level of services. The recommendations also offer simpler and more readily understood means of accessing the system and cater for diverse and specialised needs.
Mr Moore said that "changes that improved access, care and choice for older Australians invariably also benefited and provided new options for their carers. The recommendations also offered advantages directly to carers. Under the new system the capacity and needs of carers, not just the people they were caring for, would be assessed while an expanded range of services would be offered to carers in Carer Support Centres. Importantly these services would be available to carers directly."
Mr Moore also noted that the report recognises the importance of planned and emergency respite services for carers, but relies on the National Carers Strategy (NCS) to reform the respite system in terms of its availability, flexibility and cost. Yet the NCS, released by the Government only last week, provides minimal detail on a strategy to improve respite services. Likewise the report assumes a commitment on the part of the Government through the NCS to improve carer education and training yet at this stage detail is lacking in the NCS. If the potential of the Caring for Older Australians recommendations to improve the lives of older Australians and their carers is to be fulfilled then the Government must assign priority to the fuller development and implementation of its National Carer Strategy.
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