The proliferation of a range of 'for profit' services for older people is a relatively new phenomenon. Not only do large corporations operate many of our aged-care facilities, but there is now an abundance of consultants, advisors, agents, brokers - all seeking to make their fortune out of frail older people and their families.
One wonders how it has come to pass that it is barely possible for the regular consumer to navigate the system without the assistance of a paid consultant, agent or broker?
The ACCT notes the following:
- That the pressure from hospitals to move aged residents from acute beds as quickly as possible places enormous stress on families.
- That some hospital social workers insist (quite wrongly) that relatives employ an aged-care broker in order to secure a speedy placement.
- That the ad hoc, fragmented nature of our aged-care services has made the system far too complicated. Family members, while facing significant trauma, must quickly learn about the workings of hospitals, aged-care facilities (including extra services),
- ACAS, respite care, CACPs, HACC services, EACH, ageing in place, bonds, fees, the complaints system and much more.
The ACCT acknowledges that, in these circumstances, those who have moved to fill the many gaps in current aged-care services are often providing much-needed assistance.
However, there are many grave concerns:
- It should be a given that all frail aged citizens and their families have ready access to Commonwealth aged-care services.
- The aged-care system should be much more consumer friendly.
- No-one should be forced to use a private broker to find an aged-care place.
- Some brokers, agents and consultants are charging exorbitant rates.
- There should be much more sympathetic and informed advice from funded agencies available to family members at a time of crisis.
- Hospital social workers should more fully appreciate the various problems (such as closed waiting lists and limited hours for inspection) which face families as they seek to find an aged-care place for their loved ones.
We ask why it takes prolonged media coverage before the needs of older people even start to be addressed by our politicians and health bureaucrats. After all, in June 2005, an extensive Senate Inquiry into Aged Care made 51 Recommendations unanimously supported by all parties to the Government, with no result to date?