Even more aged care funding needed to meet ever-increasing demand

WELCOME BOOST: Each person in residential care will have an extra $1800 spent on looking after them, with $320 million committed over the next 18 months. Chair of Beaudesert aged care facility, the Wongaburra Society, Tim Kelly, says this money is dearly needed to keep up with the demands of clients.
WELCOME BOOST: Each person in residential care will have an extra $1800 spent on looking after them, with $320 million committed over the next 18 months. Chair of Beaudesert aged care facility, the Wongaburra Society, Tim Kelly, says this money is dearly needed to keep up with the demands of clients.

Wongaburra Society chair Tim Kelly has welcomed the additional $662 million for essential aged care services announced by the Federal Government prior to the commencement of the Royal Commission on February 11.

Mr Kelly said it was positive news for the community but there was a long way to go before the amount of funding matched the level of need.

Included in the funding is a commitment to deliver 10,000 home care packages across Australia.

While, over the next 18 months $320 million is to be spent, which will see an additional $1800 go towards the care of each person in residential care.

Mr Kelly said this money was dearly needed to keep pace with the requirements of residents.

"The trend over the last 10 years is that our residents enter our facility at a time when their needs are greater," he said.

"These higher needs demand a greater range of services.  

"As such, the $1800 will be gratefully accepted.  It is hoped that it will not simply stop after 18 months."

Mr Kelly said a zero-funding increase for residential care nationwide in the 2016/17 financial year had accentuated the need for additional money. 

He said the Wongaburra Society supported any initiative that would increase funding for the sector, be it for residential or home care.

He said there was a growing demand in the sector for home care services and the $282.4 million being provided for 10,000 home care packages across all levels of care would be vital as the current need was not being met by existing funding.

Wright MP Scott Buchholz said local seniors would share in the investment as the quality of aged care improved and the sector became safer, and more transparent and accessible.

“The immediate $320 million increase in subsidy payments will help strengthen the viability of residential aged care services,” Mr Buchholz said.

“This builds on our Government’s $562 million aged care boost in the December Budget update and our annual aged care funding increases of approximately $1 billion a year since 2013.

“This is a major win for senior Australians, including here in Wright, delivering the services and security our local people deserve, whether in their own homes or in a residential aged care facility.”

He said the new investment in home care aimed to support more people to access care sooner.

“It will benefit people who are waiting for a home care package. People will receive the support they require sooner, so that they can remain living at home and in their communities for longer. It will also delay entry into more costly residential aged care," he said.

There is also new funding to enhance the safety, quality and integrity of home care, at a cost of $7.7 million and a $35.7 million increase to home care supplements for dementia and cognition and veterans.

Senior Australians receiving residential aged care services will also benefit from:

  •  Increased support for aged care providers, with a $320 million general subsidy boost in 2018–19
  •  A $4.6 million trial of a new residential care funding tool to replace the Aged Care Funding Instrument
  •  A $4.2 million mandatory national aged care quality indicator program

Both residential and home care providers will be supported through a new $7.4 million business advisory service, to help improve their operations.

In an effort to enhance aged care transparency, a new compulsory quality indicator program is being implemented. The program will enable publication of a national report on the quality indicator results.

“The mandatory national quality indicator program will include indicators on the use of physical restraint, as well as pressure sores and weight loss," Mr Buchholz said.

"It is a crucial part of better regulating the use of restraint in aged care. Options for the expansion of the current quality indicators will be investigated, including establishing an indicator for the critical measure of medication management.”

Mr Buchholz said on December 17 the government had announced 10,000 additional home care packages, reduced home care fees to keep more money in the pockets of senior Australians, increased viability supplements for residential aged care, and a $98 million fee incentive for doctors visiting aged care homes:

“Thanks to our government’s strong economic management, in the past year we have announced an additional 40,000 home care packages and $115 million to grow the Commonwealth Home Support Program,” Mr Buchholz said.

“This is about more choices for a longer life – giving senior Australians more aged care options and supporting them to live independently for as long as possible.”