It’s time to rectify the anomaly in aged-care funding

In society, there are always “unspoken truths”– things that are just accepted as being "right."

When it comes to aged care, one of those unspoken truths has been that if you move into an aged care home you will get better care or more care.

The royal commission is examining the funding and financial arrangements in aged care.Credit:Think Stock

Damning revelations at the aged care royal commission have shown that neither is a given in the scandal-prone sector.

The funding models that operate across home care and residential aged care seem to subscribe to this same unspoken truth.

In home care, the amount of funding provided for care is based on the level of package a person receives.

There are four levels of package, with level 1 receiving the lowest level of funding at $8786 a year and level 4 receiving the highest at $50,990 a year.

In residential aged care, the funding model is more complicated, with a resident’s care needs classified as either nil, low, medium or high in three care domains – activities of daily living, behaviours and complex healthcare – creating up to 64 different funding outcomes.

Under this model, the lowest level of funding is zero and the highest is $80,161 a year.

Home care also has an extra supplement for people with dementia or cognitive care needs and, in both home care and residential aged care, there are additional supplements for people who require assistance with oxygen and feeding.

When you crunch the numbers on the funding models it becomes clear that people living in residential aged care receive more funding than those receiving home care.

At the ultimate amount, the funding for someone receiving a home-care package is just over $188 per day, while the care funding for someone (potentially the same person) in residential aged care is about $252 per day. That's 34 per cent more funding based on where you live.

In residential aged care, each person pays for their cost of accommodation by a lump sum, daily payment or a combination if they are considered to have the means to do so.

Those who are classified as low means can pay an accommodation contribution (based on their means), with the government providing a top up through an accommodation supplement of up to $57 a day.

The amount someone pays (or the government pays on their behalf) for accommodation is completely separate from the funding paid for their care.

This year, the royal commission will examine the funding and financial arrangements in aged care.

Hopefully, it will see a removal of the anomaly of how much care the government will fund based on where you live.

Rachel Lane is principal of Aged Care Gurus and author of Aged Care, Who Cares?

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