The Australian Government has announced an additional 10,000 home care packages as part of an $662M aged care investment to support older Australians.
The funding boost, announced ahead of the first Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, will also include $320 million for residential care, equating to approximately $1,800 per permanent resident over the next 18 months while the Government considers a longer-term funding approach.
“We need to have a culture of respect and care and that’s why I announced the Royal Commission into Aged Care,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison says.
“These (home care) places give older Australians the choice about how and where they want to live their lives. Older Australians have worked hard all their life, paid taxes and done their fair share, and they deserve our support.”
Industry body ACSA welcomed the announcement. “In particular, the 10,000 new home care packages will provide relief to thousands of older Australians and their families, keep people independent for longer and provide the kind of flexible care that allows people to remain part of their community,” CEO Pat Sparrow said in a statement.
"The new investment aims to help speed up access to home care and ensure older Australians receive safe, high-quality services when and where they need them. It will increase aged care access and further strengthen safety, quality and transparency and allow older Australians to live in their home longer and stay independent."
The funding also includes:
A $4.2 million mandatory national aged care quality indicator program
$7.7 million to enhance the safety, quality and integrity of home care
$35.7 million to increase home care supplements for dementia and cognition and veterans
A $4.6 million trial of a new residential care funding tool to replace the Aged Care Funding Instrument (ACFI)
A new $7.4 million business advisory service for both residential and home care providers to help them improve their operations and share best practice.
Council of the Ageing (COTA) Chief Executive Ian Yates, says COTA is pleased the Government is continuing to pursue aged care reforms while the Commission is underway.
“While more packages are needed to achieve our target of a maximum three months wait, this is another significant step forward that will have a real impact on waiting times for people who need support and care to stay at home safely,” he says.
“The 10,000 new home care packages is short of what we need, it is a substantial funding boost for a vital pillar of our aged care system that enables people to age at home instead of being prematurely forced into residential aged care when that’s not what they need or want,” Mr Yates says.
Mr Yates welcomes $320 million in extra funding for residential aged care providers, however he expressed concern that it has not been tied to better staffing. “It is disappointing there are no conditions attached to require providers to use the additional funding to increase staff numbers and/or support workforce training and development programs that will lift the standard of care in Australian nursing homes.”
“While inadequate funding is never a defence for unsafe practices, it is an issue in achieving the highest level of quality care to ensure the dignity, respect, autonomy and citizenship of all nursing home residents.”