Aged care in crisis

The Aged Care Association of Australia says demand for care for the elderly will double over the next 20 years and that without urgent reform it won’t be able to cope.

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In the upcoming election around one in five voters will be over the age of 65.

According to the government’s own analysis, the country’s aged care sector will need to double over the next 20 years to accommodate the number of retirement-aged Australians.

But the ACAA says that simply can’t be done under the current system.

In its report, ‘Health Reform: The Aged Care Chapter’, the association says around $51bn is needed to meet the rising costs of aged care.

The association’s CEO Rod Young says the government hasn’t done enough, and has so far simply committed to considering recommendations from the Productivity Commission’s inquiry.

Mr Young says under the current funding scheme aged care providers are going backwards and are unable to access sufficient capital to meet demand.

“These reforms could take up to seven years to be implemented,” he said.

That would force more elderly people into hospitals or home care, provided by children who would have to stop work.

So far neither party has released its policy on aged care, although the Coalition as promised to make 2012 the ‘Year of Meals on Wheels’ if elected, pledging $2m for the programme.

The Liberals will reveal their full policy in the next few days, while Labor says they will address the issue if they are re-elected.

But Tony Abbott has already warned his party’s policy will be limited by how much money is left in government coffers.

“I want to caution people against expecting enormous dollars because you can do a lot more with a surplus of $20bn than you can with a deficit of $57bn.”

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