Changes to community care

Parliament house flag post

Changes to community care

Posted 2/05/2012 by Rebecca de Boer

The Government has announced a significant expansion in community aged care as part of its Living Longer Living Better aged care reform package. All existing community aged care packages (Home and Community Care Program, Community Aged Care Packages, Extended Aged Care at Home, Extended Aged Care at Home – Dementia and some smaller programs) will be consolidated into a single program known as ‘Home Care’ packages. The overall number of these home care packages will increase from 59 876 to almost 100 000 by 2016–17.

Changes will also be made to the payment arrangements for community aged care. From 1 July 2014, older Australians may be asked to contribute to the costs of their care via a Care Fee (it appears that whether fees will be charged will be at the discretion of the provider). These fees will be means tested and will be paid in addition to the Basic Fee which is currently charged.

The arrangements will include:

  • annual caps on fees for part-pensioners ($5000) and self-funded retirees ($10 000)
  • full pensioners will not pay a Care Fee
  • self-funded retirees with an income greater than $43 186 will pay a care fee on a sliding scale up to a total of $10 000 per annum
  • people with a private income above $150 for a single person and $264 for a couple per fortnight will pay care fees
  • charges for the cost of care provided in the home determined by the Aged Care Financing Authority
  • these charges will contribute to an annual lifetime care cost limit of $60 000 (the lifetime limit takes into account care provided in both community and residential settings)
  • the Government will still pay a subsidy to aged care providers and this will be reduced by the Care Fee paid, and
  • subsidised care fees will be available for people receiving Home Care packages who experience severe financial hardships (as is the case for residential aged care)

Some changes have also been made to Home Care arrangements to enable older Australians to access increased levels of care (and associated subsidy) as their care needs change. There will be four levels of Home Care ranging in value from around $7500 to $45 000 (government subsidy per annum). These new arrangements are expected to better accommodate the needs of older Australians and facilitate them remaining in the community–and their home–for longer.

The means testing arrangements for community care have been described as ‘sensible and fair’. However, UnitingCare Ageing has undertaken some analysis of the community care package and estimates that older Australians living at home with low incomes will pay considerably more than they currently pay for care provided in the home. Couples with an income of $50 000 could pay up to 20 per cent of their income in care fees. This may well act as a disincentive for some to remain in their homes. As canvassed in a previous Flagpost, there have been calls by some aged care advocates for the family home to be used to pay for aged care. In this instance, the family home would be used to establish a line of credit to pay for aged care so that people could remain in their home for longer. 
Although the Government has committed to additional community care packages, it has not withdrawn the restrictions on the number of aged care packages (both community and residential). This is likely to cause problems in the future as demand is likely to outstrip supply. The 2011 aged care planning round received 24 336 applications for community care, yet only 1724 places were allocated, highlighting the significant demand for community aged care. It also is not clear if there will be a specific focus on the development and delivery of community aged care services in regional areas .

Another feature of the community care package is the shift towards consumer-directed aged care. The Government is currently conducting an evaluation of Consumer Directed Care but this has not yet been released. The program currently in operation is perceived to be restrictive as the budget and delivery of services is controlled by the aged care provider. It remains to be seen whether consumers will have greater involvement in choosing (and purchasing) aged care services. Previous criticisms of the Government’s community aged care program have suggested that the administrative costs are high, reducing the number of hours available for face-to-face care. There is (currently) insufficient detail to determine whether these concerns will be addressed as part of the new arrangements for community care.

Like the rest of the Living Longer Living Better aged care package, the community care measures have been cautiously welcomed by the aged care sector. Time will tell, as noted by one commentator, whether it will result in a ‘fundamental transformation from a funding-driven, provider-driven system to one that’s driven by what older people themselves need and want’.

See also previous FlagPosts which have canvassed other aspects of the Government’s aged care reform package (see here and here).

Thank you for your comment. If it does not require moderation, it will appear shortly.
Facebook LinkedIn Twitter Add | Email Print


Flagpost is a blog on current issues of interest to members of the Australian Parliament

Parliamentary Library Logo showing Information Analysis & Advice




refugees asylum immigration parliament climate change Australian foreign policy elections social security women welfare reform Australian Defence Force welfare policy school education private health insurance Taxation Indigenous Australians health financing higher education emissions trading Australian Bureau of Statistics employment people trafficking statistics Middle East illicit drugs gambling health reform federal election 2010 income management Medicare disability Sport United Nations Asia politics criminal law Afghanistan health forced labour transport aid Australian Sports Anti-Doping Agency World Anti-Doping Agency United States federal budget Industrial Relations Carbon Pricing Mechanism dental health OECD Senate Australian Public Service constitution Australian Electoral Commission WADA child protection environment poker machines Australia in the Asian Century steroids National Disability Insurance Scheme detention aged care 43rd Parliament slavery health system defence capability multiculturalism ASADA Law Enforcement Australian Federal Police Fair Work Act governance labour force people smuggling debt international relations New Zealand food Australian Crime Commission pharmaceutical benefits scheme leadership electoral reform Census election results UK Parliament Papua New Guinea banking International Women's Day corruption pensions public service reform children's health Aviation federal election 2013 foreign debt gross debt net debt parliamentary procedure Senators and Members ALP Newstart Parenting Payment Youth Allowance sea farers domestic violence military history by-election political parties High Court skilled migration voting mental health Federal Court terrorist groups science social media Higher Education Loan Program HECS federal state relations accountability youth paid parental leave same sex relationships coal seam gas customs planning doping crime health risks Gonski Review of Funding for Schooling sex slavery Special Rapporteur Northern Territory Emergency Response social policy Productivity United Kingdom firearms public policy Population violence against women China ADRV terrorism transparency research and development welfare ASIO intelligence community Australian Security Intelligence Organisation carbon tax mining employer employee renewable energy regional unemployment fishing European Union family assistance United Nations Security Council Australian economy forestry food labelling vocational education and training Drugs welfare systems Indonesia children Constitutional reform local government codes of conduct terrorist financing homelessness Parliamentary remuneration money laundering Trafficking in Persons Report energy social inclusion human rights paternalism Ireland election timetable citizenship asylum seekers early childhood education Canada Financial sector national security fuel disability employment Tasmania integrity standards NATO Australian Secret Intelligence Service sexual abuse World Trade Organization Australia public health housing affordability bulk billing water health policy Governor-General US economy trade unions export liquefied natural gas foreign bribery question time speaker superannuation public housing expertise climate Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry regulation Pacific Islands reserved seats new psychoactive substances synthetic drugs UNODC carbon markets animal health middle class welfare Indigenous constitutional recognition of local government referendum consumer laws PISA competition policy royal commission US politics language education baby bonus Leaders of the Opposition citizen engagement policymaking Australia Greens servitude Trafficking Protocol forced marriage rural and regional alcohol entitlements ministries Hung Parliament social citizenship maritime Iran ANZUS regional students school chaplains federal budget 2011-12 salary Medicare Locals primary care Building the Education Revolution family violence government financial advisers financial planners Financial System Inquiry Murray Inquiry China; Economic policy; Southeast Asia; Africa housing Speaker; House of Representatives; Parliament Defence High Court; Indigenous; Indigenous Australians; Native Title ACT Indigenous education Norfolk Island External Territories emissions reduction fund; climate change child care funding refugees immigration asylum procurement Indigenous health e-voting internet voting nsw state elections 44th Parliament 2015 ABS Age Pension Death penalty capital punishment execution Bali nine Bali bombings Trade EU China soft power education Fiji India Disability Support Pension Antarctica Diplomacy by-elections state and territories Bills anti-corruption fraud bribery corporate ownership whistleblower G20 economic reform innovation Members of Parliament Scottish referendum Middle East; national security; terrorism social services Criminal Code Amendment (Misrepresentation of Age to a Minor) Bill 2013 online grooming sexual assault of minors ACT Assembly smoking plain packaging tobacco cigarettes Asia; Japan; international relations Work Health and Safety Migration; asylum seekers; regional processing China; United States; international relations fiscal policy Racial Discrimination Act; social policy; human rights; indigenous Australians Foreign policy Southeast Asia Israel Palestine asylum refugees immigration political finance donations foreign aid Economics efficiency human rights; Racial Discrimination Act employment law bullying Animal law; food copyright Australian Law Reform Commission industry peace keeping contracts workplace policies same-sex marriage disorderly conduct retirement Parliament House standing orders prime ministers sitting days First speech defence budget submarines workers Somalia GDP world heritage political engagement leave loading Trade; tariffs; safeguards; Anti-dumping public interest disclosure whistleblowing Productivity Commission limitation period universities cancer gene patents genetic testing suspension of standing and sessional orders live exports infant mortality honorary citizen railways disciplinary tribunals standard of proof World Health Organisation arts international students skilled graduate visas temporary employment visas apologies roads Italy national heritage NHMRC nutrition anti-dumping Rent Assistance obesity evidence law sacrament of confession US presidential election international days DFAT UN General Assembly deregulation Regulation Impact Statements administrative law small business Breaker Morant regional engagement social determinants of health abortion Members suspension workplace health and safety marine reserves hearing TAFE Victoria astronomy resources sector YMCA youth parliament Korea rebate Australian Greens presidential nomination Racial Discrimination Act political parties preselection solar hot water Financial Action Taskforce Horn of Africa peacekeeping piracy Great Barrier Reef Stronger futures political financing political education Social Inclusion Board early childhood National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education and Care Murray-Darling Basin sanctions Norway hospitals republic President Barack Obama Presidential visits qantas counselling Korean peninsula Work Choices biosecurity hendra environmental law federalism federation preselection therapeutic goods Therapeutic Goods Administration plebiscites computer games pests suicide nuclear COAG Ministerial Councils floods ADHD stimulant medication advertising electricity extradition conscience votes poverty preventative health rural health coastal erosion Parliamentary Budget Office work-life balance

Show all
Show less
Back to top