Below we provide a short explanation about the Aged Care (Living Longer Living Better) Bill 2013 and the changes that might affect working carers.


By now, most working carers will have heard about the Aged Care (Living Longer Living Better) Bill 2013. But what is it all about?

We thought our readers of Work ‘n’ Care would appreciate a short explanation.

The biggest changes relate to the provision of home care and how aged care accommodation will be charged in the future.

Background

The Living Longer Living Better aged care reform package was announced on 20 April 2012. The package encompasses a comprehensive 10-year plan to reshape aged care.

The Aged Care (Living Longer Living Better) Bill 2013 is one of five Bills amending the Aged Care Act 1997 and related legislation to give effect to the Living Longer Living Better reforms. The legislative package comprises:

  • Aged Care (Living Longer Living Better) Bill 2013;
  • Australian Aged Care Quality Agency Bill 2013;
  • Australian Aged Care Quality Agency (Transitional Provisions) Bill 2013;
  • Aged Care (Bond Security) Amendment Bill 2013; and
  • Aged Care (Bond Security) Levy Amendment Bill 2013.

What is changing?

The Aged Care (Living Longer Living Better) Bill 2013 implements reforms in four key areas:

  • changes relating to residential care;
  • changes to establish a new type of care (home care);
  • changes relating to governance and administration; and
  • changes that are minor, administrative or consequential.

Changes to residential care

In relation to residential care, most of the changes will take effect from 1 July 2014 and include:

  • removal of the distinction between low level and high level residential care so there will only be one type of approval for permanent residential care. This enables anyone assessed as needing permanent residential care to access any residential care service that meets his or her needs;
  • changes to the way that residential care subsidies and fees are calculated for care recipients who enter residential care on or after 1 July 2014. Key changes include a new means test combining income and assets tests, and new annual and lifetime caps on means tested care fees;
  • an additional dementia supplement and a new veterans’ mental health supplement payable to providers who care for eligible care recipients. A workforce supplement will also be payable to eligible providers. These supplements will be payable from 1 July 2013;
  • enabling care recipients who can afford to contribute to their accommodation costs to have the choice of paying for their accommodation through a fully refundable lump sum, a rental style periodic payment, or a combination of both; and
  • ensuring that people in care on 30 June 2014 will continue under their current arrangements unless they leave care for more than 28 days (and subsequently re-enter care) or they move between services and choose to have the new rules apply to them as if they entered care on or after 1 July 2014.

Changes to home care

In relation to home care, the changes include:

From 1 July 2013:

  • a new type of care, home care, will replace community care (Community Aged Care Packages) and some forms of flexible care delivered in a person’s home (Extended Aged Care at Home and Extended Aged Care at Home - Dementia);
  • an additional dementia supplement and a new veterans’ mental health supplement will be available to providers who care for eligible care recipients.
  • a workforce supplement will also be payable to eligible providers. The workforce supplement will support providers to attract and retain sufficient numbers of skilled and trained workers. For more information on how the Workforce Supplement can benefit both aged care workers and providers go to the Workforce Supplement page of the Living Longer Living Better website. Resources available include FAQs for employees and employers and factsheets. (See separate story elsewhere in this issue of Work ‘n’ Care.)
  • the existing community visitor’s scheme for people receiving residential care will be extended to home care.

From 1 July 2014:

  • changes to the way that home care subsidy and fees are calculated for care recipients who enter home care on or after 1 July 2014. Key changes will include: requiring some care recipients to contribute more to the cost of their care through an income tested care fee and putting safeguards in place to ensure that: no full rate pensioner will pay an income tested care fee; and new annual and lifetime caps will apply to income tested care fees; and
  • people receiving home care on 30 June 2014 will continue under their current arrangements unless they leave care for more than 28 days (and subsequently re-enter care) or they move between services and choose to have the new rules apply to them as if they entered home care on or after 1 July 2014.

From 1 July 2015:

  • the Commonwealth Home Support Program will be introduced from 1 July 2015. The new program will combine under the one program services currently providing basic home support, including the Commonwealth HACC program, the National Respite for Carers program, the Day Therapy Centres program and the Assistance with Care and Housing for the Aged program.

While for these programs there will be no substantial changes to service delivery mechanisms or eligibility in the short term, reviews will be conducted on services such as respite, transport, meals, home modification and maintenance to inform the Commonwealth Home Support Program. Service providers and consumers will have input to these reviews.

An Advisory Group has been established to provide advice on development of the Commonwealth Home Support Program. The Group will operate under the auspice of the National Aged Care Alliance (NACA) to provide independent advice to the Minister for Mental Health and Ageing and to the Department, but with additional representation from HACC provider groups who are not represented on the NACA. Further information on the Advisory Group can be accessed on the NACA website.

Changes to governance and administration

  • establish a new Aged Care Pricing Commissioner to make decisions on certain pricing issues within the legislative framework and broad policy framework set by the Minister (see separate story in this issue of Work ‘n’ Care); and
  • provide for an independent review of the reforms to commence in 2016 with a report to be tabled in both Houses of Parliament by 30 June 2017.

As the Living Longer Living Better website is now fully operational, to stay informed, please regularly visit www.livinglongerlivingbetter.gov.au and subscribe to receive up to date information on the reforms.