Technology for social justice

Aged care reform

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Earlier this month Prime Minister Julia Gillard and the Minister for Ageing, Mark Butler unveiled a $3.7 billion Living Longer, Living Better aged care reform package designed to meet the social and economic challenges of Australia’s ageing population.

The 10-year reform package, commencing on 1 July 2012, aims to create a more flexible and seamless system that aims to empower older Australians with more choice, control and access to services. Aged care providers and consumers have welcomed the package as an important first step in providing better care to older Australians and making the system more viable.

A key element of the reform focuses on assisting older Australians to receive appropriate care while remaining in their own homes. To ensure that people are not forced to sell their family homes to meet care needs, payment options have been extended and include giving families time to choose different payment methods. Over the next five years, the reform aims to increase the number of Home Care assistance packages from 59 876 to 99,669, resulting in decreased wait time for people in need of care.

The measures announced in the package also include:

  • $1.9 billion to deliver better access to aged care services
  • $1.2 billion to address critical shortages in the aged care workforce and improve working conditions
  • $268 million to fund more support services for dementia care in aged care
  • home care and residential care costs will be capped at $60 000 over a person's lifetime, with nobody paying more than $25 000 a year.

With the demand for health and aged care services increasing every year, the importance of harnessing the tools of the internet will prove invaluable for this growing sector to effectively and efficiently disseminate information and coordinate services.

Online applications and software can offer organisation service coordination solutions and enable users convenient access to data on demand. S2S service coordination has been assisting with aged care service coordination since its development at Infoxchange over 10 years ago. S2S users form a growing network of community and government organisations spanning health, aged care, welfare and government services. Providing a centralised online database, eWaitlist enables client demand for services to be logged centrally, prioritised, and made accessible to service networks according to categories of need.

As part of the aged care reform, the Government also aims to set stricter standards and in 2013 a new national website called My Aged Care will be established as a first step in developing the Aged Care Gateway. The My Aged Care website will aim to provide users with detailed information about care facilities including staffing levels, amenities and will initiate a new rating system for nursing homes.

The uptake of online applications and the move to centralise information online with the proposed My Aged Care website should play a significant role in making the aged care sector more sustainable and efficient. With the Government’s push to make the sector a more attractive career prospect for workers, utilising software applications that facilitate the hands-on component of service delivery will be of ultimate benefit to older Australians and the services that support their needs.

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