The message to more than 120 people at the Yarrawonga Health Aged Care Expo was simple - planning today makes it easier tomorrow.RACHEAL WILLETT June 24, 2014 4:32pm
A raft of aged care reforms to be introduced on July 1 provided the catalyst for Yarrawonga Health to organise the inaugural Aged Care Expo on June 18.
Yarrawonga Health, as the largest public sector aged care provider in the area, had a responsibility to provide information on the changes for the benefit of people considering aged care for themselves or their families, said CEO Terry Welch.
“What we often find is that people leave it too late to make the decision to go into aged care because they are fearful of the process and believe it to be too difficult to manage,” Mr Welch said.
“In fact it can be quite the opposite, particularly if people get the right information and advice and make plans well ahead of time. Aged care can be an enjoyable chapter of people’s lives and we find a lot of people, once they are in aged care, are sorry they didn’t do it sooner.”
From July 1, 2014, the distinction between high-level and low-level aged care will be removed and different payment options will be introduced for clients.
Yarrawonga Health Manager of Corporate and Residential Business Services Melissa Murfitt explained the shift toward a three part payment system.
“The aged care system is designed so that no-one will ever be denied aged care because they cannot afford it,” she said.
The new system will introduce the same payment structure for each of Yarrawonga Health’s aged care options – Warrina, Karana and Allawah.
Each person will pay a Basic Daily Fee – to cover food, utilities, laundry services etc. which is 85% of the standard single pension.
The second fee is a means tested fee – to cover nursing and personal care – which a resident may or may not have to pay depending on an income and assets assessment and is capped at $25,000.
Importantly, this fee replaces the current income-tested fee, which was based solely on assessable income, with a fee that is based on both assessable income and assets, including the family home.
The third fee, the accommodation payment, replaces the existing accommodation bond and is fully refunded to their resident or their families should the person leave care or pass away. The accommodation payment can be paid as a Residential Accommodation Deposit (RAD) as a lump sum or broken into a Daily Accommodation Payment (DAP) or a combination of both.
With the changes to aged care also comes the requirement for all service providers to disclose their fees on the Australian Government website My Aged Care.
“The most important thing is that we encourage everyone to seek independent financial advice to determine what is their best option for moving into aged care,” Mrs Murfitt said.
“The best idea is get on the front foot and have your income and asset assessment completed and ready for when you need to make the decision on which is the best aged care option for you.”
Mr Welch said the changes to the aged care system would only apply to new clients from July 1, 2014. Existing aged care clients would remain on their existing payment arrangements.
“I have no doubt the changes will cause some anxiety – that is a big part of the reason why an event like this is so important,” he said.
“There is no denying the changes will make aged care cost more for many people.
We completely understand that which is why it is important to be up front about what it will cost and what options people have. It takes away the shock and awe and gives people the encouragement to start planning now.”
The Yarrawonga Health Aged Care Expo also provided vital information from State Trustees on the important of power of attorney arrangements and a having a legal, up-to-date Will and an update on the organisations commitment to environmental sustainability.
“We’ve been overwhelmed with the response to the expo,” Mr Welch said.
“It’s clear there is a real need to get this information out and we’re pleased to have been able to provide a forum to do that.”
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