The Aged Care Minister has stated he is “personally committed” to a new model of aged care funding if the LNP government is returned this year.

The Resource Utilisation and Classification Study (RUCS) is a new model of aged care funding being developed by the Australian Health Services Research Institute, which is part of the University of Wollongong.

Professor Kathy Eagar, who is leading the research on RUCS, says “ACFI is no longer fit for purpose” and RUCS is a “very clear policy alternative”.

The proposed funding model will “make explicit” the relationship between price and cost, and payments for residents will be based on 13 “payment classes” which reflect the capabilities of the resident.

The research recommends that the assessment for funding be kept separate from assessment for care planning, with the assessment for funding being undertaken externally and the assessment for care planning being undertaken at the aged care facility.

According to a report in The Australian, funding for the highest-needs residents would need to increase by 75 per cent, and funding would also be needed to “keep the doors open” in aged care facilities.

“Better identify the needs of individuals”

The Aged Care Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Ken Wyatt AM, told HelloCare, “I am very excited by the University of Wollongong’s RUCS study.

“Once implemented, RUCS will better identify the needs of individuals in residential aged care and better allocate resources to meet their needs.

“RUCS is potentially a completely different way of allocating funding for residential aged care, that will fix flaws in the ACFI, including replacing ACFI’s complex and time consuming assessment process and eliminating incentives for providers to ‘upcode’ resident need.

“What it shows is how the funding available should be distributed to address actual resident need. The study is about the relative costs of participants, not the absolute cost of residential aged care.

“Once implemented RUCS would provide a sound basis for understanding actual cost drivers in residential aged care, which the current ACFI can not.

“I am personally committed to implementing RUCS if the Government is returned,” he said.

Earlier this month, the minister announced a $4.6 million trial of the RUCS.

Despite the minister’s enthusiasm for the RUCS, no firm commitments has been made to the model, other than the trial.

Greater transparency is needed in aged care funding

Dr Sarah Russell, Principal Researcher, Research Matters, told HelloCare, “I do not want to see any more aged care funding until there is transparency around how they are spending the money.”

Professor Eagars told HelloCare that the final report on the research will be released on Thursday 14 March 2019.

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