The Australian Government has announced a 10-year plan, beginning 1 July 2012, to change key aspects of the aged care system. The package of proposed changes is known as Living Longer Living Better. Many of these proposed changes will benefit many stroke survivors, their carers and families. Some key points are:
A Better Coordinated System
Many stroke survivors and their carers find it difficult to navigate the aged care system and find out what their options and entitlements are. The Australian Government is planning to introduce, from 2013, a new website called My Aged Care that will put together all the different information stroke survivors and carers need. There will also be a national call centre so individual questions can be answered.
Increased Care at Home
Central to the plan are initiatives designed to better support carers and help stroke survivors to receive care in their own homes. These include:
• An increase in the number of Home Care packages from 59,876 to close to 100,000 over the next five years
• From 1 July 2012 there will be more support for respite and counselling services for survivors and their families and carers
New Income Testing Arrangements
• New means-testing arrangements for Home Care packages, which will include the introduction of a consistent income test from 1 July 2014.
• No charge for people receiving the full pension
• The family home will remain exempt from the new means test and people currently receiving a home care package will not be subject to the new arrangements
• An indexed annual cap of $5000 for single people on an income less than $43,000, and up to $10,000 for self-funded retirees, will apply to care fees.
• More choice will be available for people to pay for their residential care to avoid an emergency fire sale of family property. Payment can be made in a lump sum, periodically, or a combination of both methods
• A new cooling off period will be introduced so decisions on methods of payment do not have to be made until they have entered care
• From 1 July 2014 means testing for residential care will be changed and the current income and assets tests will be combined into one test but the treatment of the family home in this calculation will not change from what it is today
• From 1 July 2014, Residential Aged Care providers will receive an increase in to the daily fee they receive from government when people are unable to meet the costs of their residential care. It will increase from about $32 a day to about $53 a day
• The number of aged care places are expected to rise from 91,522 to 221,103
There will be a lifetime cap of $60,000. This means you will not be expected to pay more than $60,000 for both in home and residential care.
Increased Dementia Funding
Planned new dementia care funding will also have significant benefits for stroke survivors, their families and carers, as vascular dementia is a common complication of stroke. A new plan called the Dementia Supplement is expected to include:
• An extra $164.3 million to be available to those already receiving financial assistance through Home care packages and those who qualify for assistance in residential care
• Increased support for fast dementia diagnosis and more focus on people with younger onset dementia
The National Stroke Foundation supports these proposed changes. CEO Dr Erin Lalor said the reforms announced to Australia’s aged care system would provide welcome relief to hundreds of thousands of stroke survivors and their families. She said: “The National Stroke Foundation looks forward to working with the federal Government on their implementation and ensuring they meet the needs of the community.”
More information and detailed fact sheets are available.