The Australian Government is launching an internet portal tracking aged care services, while streamlining access to information about nursing homes, staffing levels, amenities and community care services.
This My Aged Care internet portal, to be supported by dedicated phone services, goes live in early 2013. It is part of a US$3.84 billion (AUD$3.7 billion) reform agenda designed to overhaul aged care services in Australia.
For the first time, the My Aged Care portal will feature a star rating system for nursing homes and other aged care services, including any previous history of complaints or feedback about the quality of care.
The government is introducing a single information-access gateway to consolidate information about services, according to the Minister for Ageing, Mark Butler.
He said the My Aged Care website will offer detailed information about aged care providers, available services, amenities, staffing levels, fees and other charges.
This on-line gateway will enable families and older Australians to compare and make informed choices about the quality of available care and affordability.
The My Aged Care web site is the latest internet portal that caters for specific communities, including the MySchool, MyHospital, and MyUniversity web sites.
Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard said Australians are living longer; this has implications for how the government runs its aged care program.
The latest reform tackles long-standing concerns about the quality of aged care in Australia affecting elderly and often poorly-informed residents.
“We now have a new generation moving into retirement, the baby boomers, who will clearly want more options and choices than older Australians have sought in the past,” PM Gillard said.
“Families can’t get the information they need to make difficult choices.”
Australia’s system of monitoring and compliance needs to be overhauled to give would-be residents and their families a true picture of nursing home quality.
”Now it’s just about putting a tick or cross in a box; all residents or family members should be asked their views for a start.”
Internet-savvy baby boomers are changing perceptions about ageing; they also expect better information and choices about the quality of care, nursing homes, and other facilities.
Australia’s aged care services are severely stressed – with many Australians forced to sell homes under “fire sales” to finance their need for care.
Commercially-run nursing homes are under scrutiny about the quality of services, while being expensive to finance for families seeking services for parents or elderly relatives.
More disturbingly, 40 per cent of older Australians are forced into emergency fire sales of their homes, according to PM Gillard.
These sales are to raise money to pay for care. At the top end, these bonds can cost as much as US$2.6 million (AUD$2.5 million), and bear no resemblance to the cost of accommodation being provided in nursing homes.
PM Gillard said Australia’s overhaul of aged care services, and improved information access, will give older Australians and their families greater choice and control than they’ve had in the past.
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