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06 December 2016
Today Alzheimer’s Australia welcomes the release of the Productivity Commission’s study report on Introducing Competition and Informed User Choice into Human Services: Identifying Sectors for Reform.
Alzheimer’s Australia National CEO, Maree McCabe, said the Commission’s finding that “greater competition, contestability and informed user choice could improve outcomes in many, but not all, human services,” is promising and particularly significant in the context of people living with dementia.
“There are inherent risks in focusing too heavily on increasing competition and contestability in service provision to people living with dementia,” Ms McCabe said.
“While a commercially-driven market may work well in situations where there is a strong and informed consumer voice or where service supply exceeds demand, many people living with dementia, their families and carers are among the most vulnerable consumers in Australia and many report a lack of access to the resources and supports needed to exercise informed choice.
“Any moves towards greater competition and contestability must ensure access and equity for vulnerable members of our community. Pricing and funding models must also take into account special needs, including rural and remote access to services and access to consumer-focused information on better quality of life outcomes.”
The need to balance consumer choice with appropriate information and support is mirrored in the reforms currently underway in the aged care sector. Consumer-directed care brings increased opportunities for consumer choice, but also comes with challenges around access to information for people living with dementia, their families and carers.
“We are therefore pleased to note the Commission’s emphasis on stewardship, which includes ensuring human services meet standards of quality, suitability and accessibility, giving people the support they need to make choices, ensuring that appropriate consumer safeguards are in place, and encouraging and adopting ongoing improvements to service provision,” Ms McCabe said.
“The experience of our consumers is that people living with dementia, their families and carers need seamless access to appropriate, well targeted services, preferably through a ‘one-stop-shop’ model.
“Already it can be a challenge to ensure that front line health professionals such as GPs are aware of the range of dementia support services available and to routinely refer people with a dementia diagnosis to key services such as those delivered by Alzheimer’s Australia.
“As the Commission’s study report notes, people with multiple needs can face particularly high barriers to access – barriers that are often exacerbated by difficulties navigating a complicated system of service delivery.
“In a more competitive and contestable environment for dementia services, there is a real risk of splintering services across an already complex landscape. This creates further challenges for busy health professionals to know the appropriate referral pathways, not to mention hampering the efforts of consumers to navigate the service environment,” Ms McCabe said.
Alzheimer’s Australia is the peak body for people with dementia and their families and carers. It provides advocacy, support services, education and information. An estimated 353,800 people have dementia in Australia. This number is projected to reach more than half a million by 2030.
Bianca Armytage | 0407 019 430 | [email protected]
Alzheimer’s Australia is the peak body representing people with dementia and their families and carers. It provides advocacy, support services, education and information. More than 353,800 people have dementia in Australia. This number is projected to reach more than half a million by 2030.
National Dementia Helpline: 1800 100 500
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(The National Dementia Helpline is an Australian Government Initiative)
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