$17 billion budget fix for aged care a promising start
The Federal Government’s $17.7 billion budget spend to fix Australia’s broken aged care system is a “promising start”, according to Centre Alliance's Aged Care Spokesperson Rebekha Sharkie MP.
“The five-year whole-of-government response will not fund the implementation of all of the Royal Commission recommendations, but it makes a sound start,” said Rebekha, the Federal Member for Mayo in South Australia.
“The attention to the ailing Home Care program is welcomed, with $6.5 billion over four years to release 80,000 additional home care packages over two years.
“While the waiting list is 100,000 people at present, this investment will ease some of the pressure and fewer of our older Australians will die waiting for aged care in their homes, where they want to be.
“I particularly welcome the $10.8 million to design and plan a new Home Care program, and the $18.4 million over four years to boost oversight of the delivery of home care packages in addition to the $49.1 million for the independent hospital pricing authority to help ensure that aged care funding is directly related to the cost of care.
“I am pleased to see the inclusion of significant measures to increase transparency and accountability and the creation of a Council of Elders to ensure our older Australians have a voice in the development and implementation of the new Aged Care Act and System.”
This year’s Federal Budget measures to deliver the much-needed improvements to the Aged Care System include:
- $942m to improve safety, quality and availability of residential aged care services including funding to improve access and navigation and for the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission to properly safeguard the quality, safety and integrity of aged care services and address failure in care.
- A new 'star rating system' to provide senior Australians, their families and carers with information to meaningfully compare the quality and safety performance of aged care providers
- Additional funding to support senior Australians to access information, navigate the aged care system and connect to services
- The creation of a new Aged Care Act ("while the four-year timeframe is too long the need for new legislation is supported.")
- The creation of a National Aged Care Advisory Council and Council of Elders to inform the development of the new system
- Greater transparency and scrutiny ("While the devil is in the detail I welcome the announcements in particular of greater transparency and accountability of the delivery of aged care services so that oversight is increased with the increase in funding to the sector")
- $18.4 million over four years from 2021-22 to enhance the oversight and transparency of the delivery of home care packages
- Strengthened financial reporting requirements for providers
- $49.1 million for the current independent hospital pricing authority to help ensure that aged care funding is directly related to the cost of care
- $7.5 billion over five years to improve safety and quality and the availability of home care services – noting however that while this includes $6.5 billion over four years to release 80,000 additional home care packages over two years, the waiting list is already 18 months or 100,000 people long and growing as our older population grows
- $10.8 in the next financial year is also welcomed, to design and plan a new home care program to better meet the needs of senior Australians
- $698.3 million over five years for better governance and regional access including by establishing regional offices and improving access for consumers in regional, rural and remote areas
- Greater access to respite services and payments to support informal carers ($798.3 million)
- $74.8 million for the Dementia Advisory and Response Teams to strengthen the regulation of and reduce reliance on chemical and physical restraints.
"The Government will provide $7.8 billion over five years to improve the sustainability of residential aged care services including $3.9 billion over four years from 2021-22 to increase the amount of frontline care (care minutes) delivered to 240,000 aged care residents and 67,000 people who access respite services, by 1 October 2023," Rebekha said.
"I particularly welcome the Government's intention to mandate care provision at 200 minutes per day per resident, including 40 minutes with a registered nurse.
"$3.2 billion will also support aged care providers to deliver better care and services through a new Government-funded Basic Daily Fee supplement of $10 per resident per day.
"Workforce measures will receive an additional $652.1 million over four years from 2021-22 including $216.7 million over three years to grow and upskill the workforce and enhance nurse leadership and clinical skills through additional nursing scholarships and places in the Aged Care Transition to Practice Program.
This will provide more dementia and palliative care training for aged care workers, as well as recruiting aged care workers in regional, rural and remote areas to provide eligible registered nurses with additional financial support.
"Workforce pressures should be eased by the introduction of nationally consistent worker screening, register and code-of-conduct for all care sector workers including aged care workers and support the training of 13,000 new home care workers.
"However, it should be noted that the Royal Commission indicates that many more workers will be needed over coming years.
"Some of the additional subsidised JobTrainer places will also likely be allocated to aged care workers either joining the sector or upskilling."