The Gillard government’s announcement that Australia’s elderly will be able to stay in their homes for longer under a $3.7 billion overhaul to the aged care system, has been received positively by the major provider working with the Greek Australian community.
George Lekakis, CEO of Fronditha Aged Care told Neos Kosmos that he welcomed the reforms and that taking care of people in the community in their homes was a step in the right direction.
“The increase in the number of home care packages from 59,000 to almost 100,000 in the years ahead is great news. In Victoria we have one thousand people waiting for a home care package,” said Mr Lekakis.
“It responds to people’s desire to stay at home longer and be cared for at home,” he added, saying that for Fronditha, the reforms would strengthen and improve the organisation’s capacity.
“We have two new facilities coming online in the future and we stand to benefit from these reforms.”
Fronditha’s CEO added that the flexibility of periodical payments being allowed for bonds was an important new factor that would assist people in paying for care, and he believes a crucial step will now be for the government to educate the community about the entry requirements for residential care.
The government’s announcement coincided with the culmination of Fronditha’s recent strategic planning initiative. Following consultations with the community and stakeholders Mr Lekakis told Neos Kosmos that the organisation has now earmarked its priorities for the next three years.
“A very important part of those priorities is to provide more support for people in their own homes, so our plans fit hand in glove with the government plans.”
Mr Lekakis said that Fronditha’s priorities would include the completion of its Thornbury facility, redevelopment of resources at Clayton, the refurbishment of facilities in St Albans, and the establishment of a home-based respite care program.
The changes announced by the government mean a shift to a system of user pays, with means-testing introduced on home and residential care packages. The proposed changes, which will form a centrepiece of the May 8 budget, will require self-funded retirees to pay for a greater slice of their own care.
The Prime Minister has stressed that the million people already in the aged-care system would not pay more than they currently do as a result of the reforms.
The leader of the National Aged Care Alliance, Ian Yates, has asked the government to reconsider its refusal to introduce measures to protect the raising of cash by selling the family home to finance individual aged care – a central proposal of last year’s Productivity Commission report.
Mr Yates has warned that report that people on $30,000 incomes face charges for aged care at home of $5000, compared to $1800 at present, under the proposed scheme to start in 2014.
The Minister for Ageing, Mark Butler, has responded by saying that the reforms recognised that those who can support themselves “and contribute a bit more, should”.
People will be protected from ongoing heavy cost increases because of an annual $5000 cap on care costs for those on low incomes, although the basic fee component averaging $1800 will continue.