The core funding principles developed by organisations representing a significant percentage of Australia’s residential care providers remain key to informing the development of a new ACFI model, UnitingCare says.

While the organisation joined others in welcoming the release of the alternative ACFI models report this week, there is a strong feeling amongst providers that the report did not offer enough detail, particularly in relation to provisions for minority and at-risk groups and the higher care needs of those entering residential care.

For once, it seems that most providers and industry associations are in agreement.

UnitingCare Australia National Director Claerwen Little joined ACSA and LASA in reiterating the need for stable and sustainable funding so providers can continue delivering services with confidence.

“We are seeking a funding model that enables our services to focus on consumers’ health and wellbeing, and supports re-ablement, prevention and restorative approaches to aged care services,” she said.

“Any new model should also ensure that all consumer groups, and especially those who may be socially or geographically isolated, or with high and complex needs, have access to appropriate support, care and services as they require them.

“This will only be possible if the funding model recognises that service viability is a key policy element that must be addressed.”

Aged Care Guild CEO, Cameron O’Reilly, said under-funding of aged care remains the key issue, no matter what changes are made to ACFI.

“The ACFI model is complex and has proven difficult to manage in recent times but replacing it is no panacea. The reality is that whatever the tool the Government uses to allocate its funding share, the overall funding is inadequate to meet future demand and the need for services,” he told Inside Ageing.

“If ACFI is to be replaced there needs to be extensive consultation and a strong evidence-based case for making the change. Any new funding tool will take time to implement and is not a solution to the immediate funding problem.”

Ms Little said that while Uniting recognises the Government needs to manage the growth of expenditure on aged care, any sustainable funding model must also consider the growing proportion of those entering residential facilities with high care needs.

Last year a group of not-for-profit aged care bodies joined forces to develop core funding principles that it believes should inform the development of an alternative model.

The group, led by ACSA, comprises AngliCare Australia, Baptist Care Australia, Catholic Health, the Lutheran Church, the Presbyterian National Aged Care Network and UnitingCare.

Ultimately, the group said any changes must achieve positive outcomes for consumers, enabling equitable access to high quality care and supporting consumer choice and control.

It should be aimed at maximising health and wellbeing, and support reablement, prevention and restorative approaches to aged care services.

“Funding should support all consumers based on their assessed needs, and ensure that all consumer groups, including CALD, LGBTI, indigenous Australians, older people living with disability, people suffering mental ill health or those who may be socially or geographically isolated, have access to appropriate support, care and services as they require them,” UnitingCare said in a statement about the principles last year.

“The model should also be flexible and adaptable across the continuum of care (home care and support through to residential care).”

“It should be efficient, transparent and financially sustainable. It should encourage, not stifle, innovation, investment and growth.”

“The model should effectively support interaction between the sectors responsible for providing services to older Australians – aged care, primary and allied health and acute care and allow the sector to focus on its core role.”

“High quality care needs to be seamless, so that older people can move easily between models of care without having their needs compromised.”

Minister Ken Wyatt has begun consulting with providers about the report and says nothing will be decided before the legislative review, led by David Tune, is complete.