Aged Care Reform: Bi-Annual Report (DEC 2012)

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Aged Care Reform: Bi-Annual Report (DEC 2012)

The Aged Care Reform implementation Council has been established. The Council is an independent body that monitors the progress of the living longer living better aged care reforms.

The Council plays a key role in the delivery of the reforms, ensuring they are on time and on budget. It is their duty to evaluate the progress of the reforms and report to the Minister for Mental Health and Ageing, the Hon Mark Butler MP.

The Bi-Annual Report covering the period 1st July-31st December outlines a summary of implementation progress of the living longer living better aged care reforms. It also outlines the key issues considered by the council during the reporting period.

Due to the broad nature of the initiatives introduced under the reform, nine streams have been named to enable effective planning and project management. These are;

* Staying at home: This stream aims to implement changes to enable older people to remain living in their own homes for as long as possible.

* Workforce: This stream focuses on improving the capacity of the aged care sector to attract and retain staff through means such as higher wages, education opportunities and better work practices.

* Choice and quality: This stream incorporates the establishment of the new Aged Care Quality Agency and the specified Care and Services Reference Group. This stream focuses also on providing more option in Home Care Packages and Residential Aged Care.

* Better health connections: The Better Health Connection Stream focus is on improving health care outcomes, looking at palliative care initiatives, innovative ways of delivering aged care services and multidisciplinary care.

* Tackling dementia: This stream aims to improve services and support for people with dementia and their families and carers.

* Supporting diversity: This stream supports older people from diverse backgrounds to access aged care services that are specific to their needs.

* Supporting reform: Supporting reform supports the Aged Care Reform Implementation Council and other groups to ensure appropriate measures are taken to review to effectively review the progress of the reform initiatives.

* Financing: The financing stream is about sustainable financing of the aged care sector and includes changes to current means testing policies.

* Aged Care Gateway: This stream includes the introduction of a national contact centre and the "My Aged Care" website to make it easier to access information on aged care.

Although the Council has sought to monitor all aspects of the policy implementation, the key issues considered by the Council during the reporting period have been those which present the most difficult challenges. Four areas have been identified, which are of high significance and these are;

* Building and sustaining workforce capacity

* Improving access to quality aged care

* Empowering the aged to have greater control over the support they receive

* Using digital technology to enhance citizen-centric government

The Bi-Annual report also highlighted that the time frames for aged care reform implementation are challenging . Factors such as legislation, development of IT systems and the need for genuine consultation mean that the package is highly susceptible to time set backs.

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