In 2012, the government proposed a reform package designed to reshape aged care in Australia.
Called Living Longer Living Better, the package includes a ten-year strategy for bettering aged care, as well as $3.7 billion – which will be paid out over the next five years – to make it happen.
Of this, $80.2 million has been committed to improve access to complex health care, including palliative (end-of-life) care, and strengthen the lines of communication between public and private health-care providers.
According to the Department of Health and Ageing, a quarter of all aged care residents enter hospitals each and every year.
A health insurance plan could provide you with peace of mind that, should you require hospital treatment, you may have the option of being treated in a private hospital or as a private patient in a public hospital.
It will also allow you to choose your own doctor, and may give you some sway over when you are admitted or receive medical treatment.
Living Longer Living Better was passed through parliament last month, and Ian Yates, COTA chief executive, believes it will start to improve the industry, "providing more care for people in their homes, greater control over services by consumers and their families, and a new set of quality indicators".
However, Mr Yates thinks more still needs to be done. And this more comes in the form of better complaints and advocacy services.
COTA thinks an independent complaints system and a better advocacy program for older Australians could go a long way towards lifting the quality of health care they receive.
This comment was made in response to a July 15 episode of ABC's Lateline, which exposed cases of neglect and maltreatment in aged care.
Mr Yates said he had "no doubt" that most aged care service providers offered high quality care to their residents.
However, he said there needs to be a "zero tolerance" approach when these high standards of care for older Australians are breached, as well as stronger penalties for services "that can't meet their duty of care obligations".
An independent complaints system that has the power to investigate allegations of inappropriate care and a stronger advocacy program that will give older Australians and their families more say when it comes to aged care could, believes COTA, be the answer.