Older Australians have been significant beneficiaries of the 2018 Federal budget. But will the additional funding be enough? We take a look at what the industry is saying.
Key aged care measures in the 2018 Federal Budget
- $1.6 billion for 14,000 new high level home care packages to provide some relief for the 105,000-strong waiting list.
- 13,500 residential aged care places will be opened up.
- The My Aged Care website will be made easier to use and new simpler assessment forms will be created at a cost of $62 million.
- $82.5 million in extra funding for mental health services in aged care facilities.
- An Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission, with an additional $50 million to help providers implement the new standards.
- $105 million to improve access to culturally safe aged care services in remote Indigenous communities.
- $40.0 million for urgent building and maintenance works in regional, rural and remote Australia.
- $32.8 million to improve palliative care in residential aged care.
- $5.3 million for innovations in managing dementia.
What the industry is saying
Lee Hill, Interim CEO of the Aged Care Guild, said The Guild “welcomes the extra funding” but said the instability of future funding remains a concern.
“As our ageing population grows, we need a bipartisan solution to this problem,” said Mr Hill.
More funding needed in rural areas
Pat Sparrow, CEO Aged & Community Services Australia, said the measures are “practical” but longer-term solutions were still required.
“With over 100,000 older Australians waiting for Home Care Packages, the additional 14,000 packages announced tonight (along with the 6,000 packages announced in December) are urgently needed,” she said.
Ms Sparrow said the $50 million Quality Care Fund will provide financial support for residential aged care providers.
“However, with 41 per cent of aged care providers making a loss, rising to 56 per cent in remote and rural areas, we need a serious examination of residential care funding to ensure its long-term sustainability.”
More work required: thousands will remain on home care waiting lists
Dementia Australia CEO Maree McCabe said the budget includes measures that are likely to significantly improve the aged care experience of millions of Australians.
Ms McCabe said the additional home care packages will help the thousands of people waiting for higher level care, many of whom are living with dementia.
“This funding will go towards helping thousands of Australians who are on the waiting list to receive home care packages, with some people waiting more than 12 months to receive support,” she said. But Ms McCabe said additional work is required to meet the needs of the remaining tens of thousands who will remain on the waiting list.
Ms McCabe said Dementia Australia is also pleased to see additional funding to support urgent maintenance and infrastructure for regional providers, and the $105 million to enable better access to aged care for indigenous Australians.
“It is great to see funding specifically allocated to rural, regional and remote aged care and to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander to cultural-sensitivity projects,” she said.
“We are also very pleased to note that the budget includes measures that will address elder abuse in our communities, including the development of a National Plan to address elder abuse,” said Ms McCabe.
The $5.3 million allocated for dementia innovation is also a welcome initiative, said Ms McCabe.
Ms McCabe said Dementia Australia would still like to see greater focus on supporting people living with dementia.
“More than 50 per cent of residents in aged care have a diagnosis of dementia and many more remain undiagnosed,” she said. There are more than 425,000 Australians living with dementia, with around 250 people being diagnosed with the condition every day.
Ageing baby boomers will increase demand for services
Leading Age Services Australia said the measures contained in the budget are “a step in the right direction” but “there is much more work to do”.
Sean Rooney, CEO LASA, said that as baby boomers age there will be more demand for aged care services.
“We had hoped that this budget would map out a plan to meet the longer-term needs of Australia’s rapidly ageing population,” he said.
Rooney highlighted the growing complexity of residents’ needs, rising operating costs, and an ageing aged care workforce as key concerns.
“We need a strategy that will resolve aged care funding for the next two decades as our country transitions to supporting the ‘baby boomer’ generation to age well,” he said.