Image: Betty Tsang
VCOSS strongly supports increasing consumer choice and empowering older people to have greater control over the services they access. But access and outcomes must be equitable for everyone, especially vulnerable older people.
Participation in the new home care system relies heavily on people having adequate levels of literacy; understanding the system; identifying their needs and goals; having the will and skills to exercise choice in managing their care and the confidence to self-advocate.
For people who meet this description, the system is likely to deliver increased independence, choice and power. If they are unhappy with the services provided to them, they can exercise their power to move providers, with the knowledge their financial resources and social supports will assist them through the transition.
But for many people the experience is likely to be very different. VCOSS members work with the most vulnerable older Victorians. Many are homeless, with poor physical or mental health, backgrounds of abuse and are living on very low incomes. They are often completely without family or other support to help them navigate the system or provide a safety net if the system fails them.
The integrated care at home system must consider the needs of this group of vulnerable older people at every point. This will require outreach by trusted providers to get them in the door. It will need information, advocacy and support to help them through the planning process and to make informed choices about their care.
It will need to ensure that out-of-pocket costs and individualised budgets do not discourage them from seeking help at all, or make it difficult to access programs that reduce social isolation and target loneliness.