Trustees warned on aged care ‘crisis’

Aged care professionals have warned of a looming crisis for the next generation of retiring Australians amidst confusion and ignorance of the aged care services available, and not available, in Australia.

Speaking to SMSF Adviser, technical manager at Aged Care Steps Natasha Panagis noted that there are already over one million retirees accessing aged care services in Australia.

“Professional advisers can no longer afford to ignore the issues around aged care advice,” she said.

In particular, clients are often “reluctant” to think about a potential move into a care facility, said Ms Panagis.

“This means clients and families fail to plan and ignore the warning signs until a crisis emerges. At this point, the time available to evaluate options is limited and decisions may be rushed,” she said.

Clients should be particularly aware of the aged care reforms which came into force in July 2014, because they involve additional and often significant contributions to the cost of aged care homes.

“Clients and families are often surprised by the level and range of fees. Helping them to understand the fees may help them to focus on the important task of how to fund the fees rather than just look for the cheapest option,” said Ms Panagis.

“Accommodation costs are set by market forces with prices published on the MyAgedCare website. But if assets and income can be reduced to low enough levels (to become a low-means client) before the move, the government may subsidise accommodation and regulate how much the client’s contribution,” she added.

“In this way the accommodation cost may be cheaper, but is not always better. Choice and control may be lost. The client may be faced with accepting a place in whichever service has a low-means place available and could even be a shared room.”

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