20 October 2015
Aged Care Providers - Work with PHNS to drive the future of Australian Aged Care
The Federal Government has recently announced that aged care will fall under the jurisdiction of the nation’s Primary Health Networks that co-ordinate services in local communities and ensure funding is used efficiently – shifting the aged care portfolio from the Department of Social Services back into the Department of Health.
Aged Care Minister, Sussan Ley, will oversee the portfolio.
Amongst the services and programs covered under the aged care banner is the funding for home-care for older Australians. As of 1 July 2015, this funding is now channelled directly to consumers under the consumer-directed-care (CDC) model. Primary Health Networks (PHNs) are being given responsibility and benchmarks for aged-care services and will oversee this funding.
In view of this change, it is critical that aged care providers actively engage with their PHN’s, either through their GP-led Clinical Councils and/or representative Community Advisory Committees. Both of these stakeholder groups have direct access to PHN Boards and contribute to the knowledge the PHNs have on locally relevant clinical and consumer issues.
(On a wider level, PHNs broadly engage with groups across their relevant regions – including with Local Hospital Networks (LHNs) (or equivalent), public and private hospitals, Aboriginal Medical Services, nurses, allied health providers, health training coordinators, state and territory government health services, aged care providers and private health insurers. The focus extends across the health spectrum – with approaches for dealing with mental health, diabetes, smoking related and other chronic diseases amongst the issues that they tackle.)
We suggest the following are practical ways that aged Care providers can engage with their PHNs right now to ensure that aged care issues remain a key area of focus:
- Providing local data and input to assist with development of local health needs assessments (which in turn drive central funding)
- Nominate for project trials (eg tele health, data sharing, use of technology).
Providers should note that involvement in membership on these councils and community advisory committees may impact on their ability to perform work commissioned by the PHNs, given the strict probity and procurement protocols.
THINKING AHEAD on aged care is vital to ensure that the industry is sustainable in the future.