The Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) announced by Treasurer Josh Frydenberg is a “step in the right direction” according to peak body Leading Age Services Australia (LASA).
The announcement sees a focus on home care, rural and remote aged care as well as homelessness in aged care.
With a forecasted $5.2 billion deficit in 2018–19 and an expected surplus of $4.1 billion in 2019–20, the government has said investment in aged care spending is expected to reach $23.5 billion in 2021–22.
An extra $287.3 million has been provided to bring forward the 2018–19 release for 10,000 home care packages, while providing $56.4 million to reduce the maximum daily fees that providers can charge for home care packages.
A further increase of $111.2 million has been added to aged care viability and homelessness supplements, an increase of 30 per cent, supporting those in rural and remote areas, as well as a $98 million fund to improve access to GPs in residential aged care facilities.
LASA chief executive Sean Rooney was happy with the funding boost, as well as the recent positive statements about care standards from the Labour party conference. But he urged that more can be done to assist the many older Australians on home care waiting lists, to tackle homelessness and to help regional facilities, among others.
“The age services industry is committed to reform and is working with the government and other stakeholders on a continuous improvement agenda, but adequate resourcing is needed to make the aged system better right now,” he said.
“Providing levels of funding that reflect the increasing costs and growing demand for age services is the only way we can guarantee a sustainable age services industry that meets the growing and changing needs of older Australians in all types of care settings.”
UnitingCare Australia congratulated the Government on the MYEFO announcements but took the opportunity to call both major parties to action.
“We congratulate the government for continuing that work. It is important however that ageing Australians are not held hostage to politics. UnitingCare Australia calls on both sides of politics to commit to systematic change that gives all Australians equitable access basic care in the home when they need. It makes sense.”
However, the announcements were criticised by the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) federal secretary, Annie Butler. Butler suggested that the funding, mainly concerning home care packages, will have little impact on nursing home residents.
“Unfortunately for vulnerable nursing home residents and their families, the government refuses to address, or quite frankly even acknowledge, the urgent need for mandated minimum staffing levels in all nursing homes, which would ensure best practice care,” she said.
“On the weekend, the ANMF was joined by key medical groups and experts, including the Chair of the 2018 Aged Care Workforce Strategy Taskforce, Professor John Pollaers, who called on the Prime Minister to ensure safe care for all elderly Australians by legislating minimum staffing ratios in aged care. We also released evidence demonstrating that aged care ratios make economic sense.”
These spending forecasts come at the end of a tempestuous year in the sector, culminating in the establishment of a royal commission.
The MYEFO saw the Government pledge “$104.3 million over four years from 2018-19 for the Royal Commission and $17.2 million over two years from 2018-19 to the Department of Health, the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency and the Australian Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission to support activities associated with the Royal Commission.”Do you have an idea for a story?
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