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Morrison pledges $537 million for aged care

The federal government will spend more than half a billion dollars on aged care.

Following the release of the aged care royal commission’s interim report – which identified boosting the number of home care packages, a response to over-reliance on chemical restraint in aged care and stopping the flow of younger people entering it as three areas needing urgent action – Prime Minister Scott Morrison earmarked more money for the sector by Christmas.

Today, Morrison said the government would deliver a $537 million funding package to respond to the interim report.

Home care packages

The bulk of the funds ($496.3 million) will go to an additional 10,000 home care packages.

Morrison said they will be “strongly weighted” towards level 3 and level 4 packages.

They will be rolled out from this Sunday.

Chemical restraints

Morrison committed further funding for medication management programs to the tune of $25.5 million to reduce use of chemical restraints in aged care.

He also earmarked new restrictions and education for prescribers on the use of medication as a chemical restraint.

“From 1 January 2020, we will also establish stronger safeguards and restrictions for the prescribing of repeat prescriptions of risperidone,” the Prime Minister said.

“Doctors will still be able to prescribe it but will be required to apply for additional approval if risperidone is to be prescribed beyond an initial 12-week period. These changes have been developed following recommendations from the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee, and in collaboration with doctor’s groups and the broader health sector.”

High prescribers will be sent targeted letters and the government will see the development of education resources to support the appropriate use of antipsychotics and benzodiazepines.

A further $10 million over two years from 2019–20 will go to additional dementia training and support for aged care workers and providers – one of the focuses for that will be reducing the use of chemical restraint.

Morrison added: “The royal commission directed that restraint must only be used as a last resort, and amendments to regulations will make this clear.”

Younger people in residential aged care

Tackling the third of the royal commission’s priority areas, the government will also invest $4.7 million to help meet new targets to remove younger people with disabilities from residential aged care.

Those new targets “apart from exceptional circumstances” are:

  • No people under the age of 65 entering residential aged care by 2022;
  • No people under the age of 45 living in residential aged care by 2022; and
  • No people under the age of 65 living in residential aged care by 2025.

The funds will go, in part, towards a joint agency taskforce to build a new strategy to ensure the targets are met, establishing a specialist team within the NDIA to prevent younger people with a disability who are eligible for the National Disability Insurance Scheme from entering aged care, and identifying all available appropriate accommodation across the country to develop a database of existing and new housing options available now and in the future.

Morrison promised that key reforms would continue while the royal commission forged ahead. “There will be more work to do across aged care as we continue to listen and respond to the issues raised by the royal commission.”

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  1. Why does the Government repeatedly recommend that people under 65 be placed back in community care under the NDIS? Why is there not equity for placing the aged back in community with care levels equal to those under NDIS? The inequities that this Government subscribes to are disgusting. They speak of equity but discriminate repeatedly. There are many people over the age of 65 living in aged care that could live in community with adequate support- this inequity needs to be addressed now!

  2. It is a sad state of affairs that none of the increase in spending addresses the staff shortages impacting the aged care industry.

    It isn’t rocket science to figure out that anti-psychotic medications are over prescribed because the staff in aged care don’t have enough time to provide 1:1 responsive care to address behaviours and psychological symptoms of Dementia.

    Sadly the residents and staff in aged care will have to wait for the findings of the royal Commission before the real solutions to the address the neglect in aged care is recommended.

    Why is it so hard to for the Government and the industry to increase staffing numbers and legislate appropriate staff ratios ?