Guest Blogger: The Cost of Not Caring

By on the Thursday, November 28, 2013

Our latest guest blogger CEO of Amana Living Ray Glickman, discusses the consequences of not counting the true costs of aged care.

It’s no wonder that aged care feels insecure after living with the dysfunctional Canberra family for the past three years.


And what have we got to show for the experience? Not much really. Living Longer Living Better (LLLB) was spun as aged care reform. In reality, it is tinkering at the edges of a system that, if not broken now, will surely break under the weight of burgeoning numbers of older Australians, people with extensive and expensive health needs.

Caring for older Australians, the Productivity Commission report, was a magnificent piece of work. Well researched, balanced and visionary. As such, it was particularly disappointing when the Rudd/Gillard/Rudd government cherry-picked the recommendations and squibbed on its opportunity to be the architect of true reform.

The bedrock of the PC report was a Cost of Care study. After all, how can you truly reform a system if you don’t know how much it will cost? Would anyone undertake significant home renovations without getting a quote?

The Government sidestepped this one because it didn’t want to know how much it will cost to support older Australians to a decent standard. In a way, you can hardly blame them, as the answer is likely to scare us all.

Yet the evil day has to come. We all need to know what we are up for. Let’s not forget that there are upsides for Government from a Cost of Care study. Only then can the argument truly be made that older people with assets will have to bear a considerable burden of their own cost of care.

We now have a new government with a handsome majority. Hopefully, this will mean more strategy and less squabbling. Surely politicians of all persuasions will see the need for a stronger focus on long-term policy if the nation’s post mining boom challenges are to be addressed.

On the negative side of the ledger, the Coalition has not elevated the Ageing portfolio into Cabinet. Indeed it has removed the title of Ageing from the Ministerial name-plate.

However, on the positive side, it has pledged itself to be guided by the Productivity Commission’s framework in implementing its aged care initiatives.

If it is fair dinkum about being guided by the PC framework, the best thing it could do would be to commit to a Cost of Care study. If it doesn’t, we have to question the cost of not caring. It is easy to imagine such a future, where older people are stuck in hospital beds instead of purpose-built care facilities and where national productivity is severely constrained by the massive burden of caring falling upon the working-age population.

There is a tsunami of ageing coming our way. What is the cost of care compared to the likely cost of not caring?

Ray Glickman

CEO of Amana Living