News: Ley talks consumer-directed care for 2016
“The best thing to happen this year for me was that I became the minister for aged care,” federal health minister Sussan Ley said. “I put my hand up when the change of prime minister occurred because I believe it was the right time for aged care to come back into the health portfolio, where it used to be, and to link the important aspects of health and ageing.”
She said the important change for the sector in 2015 was the move to consumer-directed care.
“We’re not going to transition overnight, but we know where we want to go,” she said. “We know how we are going to get there. Most importantly, we know it’s going to work for consumers, for those who do have every right to say what services they want delivered to them, how they want them, what they want to pay for them, and for there to be some real competition in the market.”
She expects the industry roadmap to be delivered shortly, which she says is an “exciting response from the sector that indicates where they believe we need to be going more broadly”.
“I say that’s exciting because, again, it’s not government dictating to people who work each and every day in the important area of aged care what the future needs to look like, both for residential and home care, but it’s a roadmap coming back to us, to me as minister. I haven’t got that yet. I’m getting it very soon, and I will obviously have more to say when I do receive it.”
Moving into an election year, Ley says the government will continue to engage with the community around consumer care packages, and build meaningful services, policies and programs for individuals.
“Obviously, I’ll have more to say during the election campaign, but my passion is rural and regional aged care. I come from western New South Wales, and I know that what works in the city doesn’t always work so well in the bush. I’m interested in particular models and particular financing models around rural and regional aged care.”
When asked about criticisms of her recent mental health reforms, which some say fail to recognise the needs of older people, Ley was quick to suggest people need to speak to consumers themselves.
“One of the initiatives I’m keen to start around quality is asking older people themselves what quality looks like, what it means to them, and how we, both in residential and home and community care, should measure it appropriately.
“Just because someone else thinks quality exists doesn’t mean the most important person at the centre of that care agrees with them. I want to find ways of measuring and then valuing quality in terms of the individual and what it means for them.”