Hundreds of thousands of older Australians will benefit from the Turnbull Government’s efforts to streamline access to aged care services and cut unnecessary red tape from the system.
The overhaul is part of an $85 million investment announced in this year’s budget that will provide more choices and better connect people with the services they need.
Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt and Human Services Minister Michael Keenan said many of the changes were long overdue and would help reduce the stress on older people at what could be a difficult time in their lives.
To make means testing simpler, a taskforce led by the Department of Human Services and made up of industry and community representatives has been established to work on slashing the current 28-page means-test application form.
Human Services Minister Michael Keenan said about 170,000 people completed the form each year, with many describing it as highly complex and difficult to navigate.
“Moving out of your home and into aged care can be stressful enough without the added burden of having to complete complex forms to determine the level of assistance you are eligible to receive,” Mr Keenan said.
“It is often the children of older Australians who have to shoulder this responsibility and many have told us that they have to seek independent financial advice to help them complete the documents.”
The taskforce will work to produce one new shorter form, likely to be just a few pages long, for those whose financial affairs are relatively simple – a move that will benefit about 70,000 people each year.
A second simplified form will also be introduced for about 100,000 others with more complex financial affairs.
The new forms are expected to be in use by May next year and free financial counselling will also be made available through the DHS’s Financial Information Service to assist people during the transition.
Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt said work was also commencing on a $61.7m revamp of the My Aged Care portal to make access easier.
“My Aged Care is a vital tool for older Australians and their families and carers, with more than 3.5 million website visits per year and over one million phone calls,” said Minister Wyatt.
“We have heard the concerns of users and are determined to make it as easy to understand as possible, providing the right information in a people-friendly format.
“To further improve transparency and choice, work is underway on an $8.8 million project to implement an aged care provider comparison system on the My Aged Care portal.”
Aged care access will also be streamlined, with a $14.8 million program to simplify personal assessments. ##