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The Aged Care Rollercoaster

The Aged Care Rollercoaster

12 Oct 2018


At the best of times, the decision to assist a loved one enter residential aged care can be an emotional rollercoaster. Adding to this come the difficulties of trying to gain some understanding of complexities of the aged care system, locating and assessing aged care homes to see if they provide the care and environment you are looking for and then working out if they are affordable.

We have recently been confronted with an exposé by ABC’s Four Corners highlighting a range of harrowing stories about the poor treatment of the elderly in a variety of aged care homes and the manifest failure of the regulators to address this issue.

The government has announced that they will appoint a Royal Commission and we are waiting for its terms of reference to be announced. Most observers expect it to focus on the quality of care provided in both residential and home care services including:

· The quality of care provided to older Australians and the extent of substandard care

· The challenge of providing care to Australians with disabilities who live in residential care, including younger people with disabilities

· The challenge of supporting people suffering dementia, and

· The future challenges and opportunities for aged care services including in remote, rural and regional Australia.

But this spotlight on the quality of aged care is nothing new. Last year we had 5 reviews including David Tune’s Legislated Review of Aged Care 2017. In fact, there have been more than 20 reviews in the past 20 years! So there is no shortage of reviews and reports, all of which include to varying degrees similar stories of bad behaviour and financial abuse.

One thing is certain. Families need to be forthright in advocating for their loved ones with the facilities. Advance care directives and medical treatment decisions are now subject to Victorian legislation. Providers are now required by law to seek instructions from families regarding medical treatment and risk penalties for failure to do so.

There are three major participants involved in the residential care system and they tend to have competing objectives:

· The government wants a system that is stable and efficient, delivering contemporary services in an equitable manner to residents. They expect the providers to deliver a quality care service in return for the significant government funding that they receive.

· The providers seek a system which gives them certainty and stability in funding so that they can deliver care in an efficient and effective way. They need to be increasingly flexible to be able to respond to what their customers (the residents and their families) want.

· The consumers of care want a system that delivers a wide range of services in return for an acceptable financial contribution. Those who can afford it (and make use of it) are prepared to pay more for quality services if they can see the value.

Everyone agrees that the sector will need substantial capital investment in coming years to deal with our ageing population’s needs. Returns need to be sufficiently attractive to encourage the providers to continue to make the investment.

At Joseph Palmer & Sons, we guide families through the aged care maze and help them to achieve the best financial outcomes.

Rodney Horin is an Aged Care Adviser at Joseph Palmer & Sons and can be contacted on (03) 9601 6847, or visit

Aged Care is a complex area for most people – for more information please contact one of our experienced Aged Care consultants, John Rawling in Melbourne on (03) 9601 6816 or Ron Stephens in Sydney on (02) 8224 3324 for a no-obligation discussion on how we can demystify this topic and help you through the financial process.

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