Scott Morrison has committed to a home care funding boost in the tailwind of the royal commission’s interim report.
Within the report, commissioners and staff outlined “areas of urgent action” that the government need not wait for their final report to act on – one of which was more home care packages.
Speaking to 3AW this morning about those areas of urgent action, the Prime Minister said he would be making a response before the end of the year.
“One of the reasons I’ve been waiting for this report [is] because I wanted that to inform the final decisions we were going to make around in-home aged care funding before we finalise the mid-year update,” he said.
Morrison confirmed that the government would spend money on home care by Christmas but stopped short of confirming a figure.
He added: “It’s one of the reasons I’m so careful about our spending in the budget because I’ve been saying for some time now that we knew we would need to address issues coming out of this royal commission on aged care.”
In its February 2019–2020 Budget submission, Leading Age Services Australia (LASA) said the total value of unmet demand for home care “remains very large at perhaps $8-9 billion over three years”.
“To smooth the costs of meeting care needs and reducing the queue, LASA recommends a phasing in of gradually smaller maximum wait times, until the maximum wait time for any package is no more than three months,” the submission read.
The peak said it would be reasonable to invest around $500 million a year in additional funding until wait times fall to an acceptable level.
The Health Department told the royal commission it would cost between $2 billion and $2.5 billion per year to bring wait times down to three months, but COTA Australia chief executive Ian Yates said it could be less if government created a single, streamlined home care program with individually planned packages.
Via Twitter, shadow aged care minister Julie Collins said there is no higher priority than immediately acting to fix the home care crisis in Australia.
“It is shameful that in a wealthy country like Australia older people can’t get the care they need,” Collins said. “The Morrison Liberal Government must immediately act on the Royal Commission’s urgent advice – older Australians and their loved ones cannot wait one more day for action.”
Meanwhile, Australian Greens spokesperson on ageing Rachel Siewert pushed the government to immediately address another of the urgent areas the commissioners identified – use of chemical restraint.
“We already regulate the use of restrictive practices in the disability sector,” Siewert said. “The aged care sector is falling behind and failing to protect older people.”
She said the Government can do something about the use of chemical and physical restraints in aged care by immediately amending the Quality of Care Amendment (Minimising the Use of Restraints) Principles 2019 tabled in Parliament by Government earlier this year.
“The regulation takes a permissive approach rather than a last resort approach and is not focused on elimination of the use of restraints,” she added.
The details of the promised home care funding injection will be revealed in the half-yearly Budget update in mid-December.Do you have an idea for a story?
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