The is a lot of discussion surrounding aged care funding – especially around budget time and end of financial year.

Thought the primary value in aged care is “care” – money play an important role is how good that care can be.

Funding determines everything from how many staff there are, to the food the residents eat to the quality of the activities.

But in all this “funding talk” – how well do the public understand what goes into caring for their elderly loved one?

Pat Sparrow, CEO of Aged & Community Services Australia acknowledges that individual complaints about aged care warrant the close attention of those in the industry.

But at the same time, Ms Sparrow also believes any problems can be better understood through a broader community conversation about how aged care is funded into the future.

The demographic challenge posed by the ageing population in coming decades – with an anticipated doubling in the number of people aged over 65 between now and 2050 –  increases the need to address politically uncomfortable questions about the sort of aged care society expects to be provided, and how we can afford that care into the future.

“The government, that is taxpayers, will need to significantly increase its outlay on aged care in coming decades to meet this demographic challenge head-on,” says Ms Sparrow.

“Asking the hard questions like what can and should be funded by the taxpayer, and what should be funded by the individual is part of moving that discussion forward.”

“For example, in determining how much Government funds and how much the individual pays how do we take account of the largest asset most Australians own – their home?” she said.

Ms. Sparrow said that as the peak body for not-for-profit aged care providers, a frequent problem for members is the mismatch between community expectations of care, and what providers are actually funded to deliver.

“If the recent media attention achieves anything I hope it can be to start a constructive community dialogue about what is expected of aged care service providers and how it can be funded in a sustainable way into the future using both public and private funding.”

“Those of us who work within the industry on a daily basis strive to provide quality care and genuinely care about what we are doing,” said Ms. Sparrow.

“We also recognise aged care is a human service and not perfect. As Providers, we are as concerned as anyone about providing the best service we can and fixing problems where they occur.”

Starting a broader community conversation and asking those politically tough questions of ourselves is the only way we can determine the sort of aged care society expects to be provided, and how we can afford that care into the future.”

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