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Developing an alternative funding model for residential aged care

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Kathy Eagar1If you’ve ever found it difficult to correlate the living conditions in residential aged care with the earnings of some of the for-profit providers, you’re not alone.

In fact, thanks to the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation’s research and reporting in this regard, the Senate Economics Reference Committee last month announced an Inquiry into the financial and tax practices of Australia’s for-profit aged care providers.

The ANMF’s report, prepared by the Tax Justice Network – Australia, showed that the top six for profit providers received $2.17 billion in government subsidies but paid little, or no tax.

Finding an alternative funding model for residential aged care, fittingly, is the the focus of a presentation at this year’s ANMF (SA Branch) Annual Professional Conference by University of Wollongong’s Professor of Health Services Research and Director of the Australian Health Service Research Institute (AHSRI) Kathy Eagar.

Prof Eagar has over 35 years’ experience in health and community care systems, during which she has divided her time between being a clinician, a senior manager and a health academic.  She has authored over 450 papers on management, quality, outcomes, information systems and funding of the Australia and New Zealand health and community care systems.

She is currently heading up a team of over 60 researchers covering 20 disciplines across eight research centres including the Centre for Health Service Development (CHSD), the Australasian Rehabilitation Outcomes Centre (AROC), the Palliative Care Outcomes Collaboration (PCOC), electronic Persistent Pain Outcomes Collaboration (ePPOC) and the National Casemix and Classification Centre (NCCC).

More pertinent to her conference presentations, Prof Eagar is currently leading the national Resource Utilisation and Classification Study (RUCS) for the Australian residential aged care sector.

We had a quick Q&A with Professor Eagar to find out more about her and, importantly, what we can expect to learn from her conference address:

a) Without giving away your message, what can attendees expect to take away from your presentation at this year’s ANMF (SA Branch) conference?
I will present preliminary findings from the national residential aged care Resource Utilisation and Classifications Study (RUCS). RUCS is currently in progress and will be complete by the end of 2018. This is the first ever costing and classification study in residential aged care and it is focusing on what drives costs in residential aged care.

b) Can you tell us about the most memorable time your life was impacted by a nurse or a midwife?
My sister Sandy is a nurse and she manages refugee nursing services in NSW. Her experiences have made me proud of Australian health care but ashamed of Australian refugee policies.

c) If your six-year-old self dictated your current career path, what would you be doing?
A first-grade school teacher

d) What are three things still left on your bucket list?
Travel, travel, travel

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