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29 Nov 2019

The Federal Government has committed $537 million to aged care in response to the Royal Commission’s interim report into the troubled sector.

But the AMA, along with other aged care advocates, say the money isn’t enough to address growing need or fix the widespread neglect that has been revealed.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a package of $496.3 million for an extra 10,000 home care packages. There are 120,000 people already in the queue.

Earlier this year, the Health Department told the Royal Commission that it would cost an extra $2 billion to $2.5 billion each year to provide appropriate home care packages for everyone on the waiting list.

The new funding also includes $25.5 million towards improving medication management, following the Royal Commission’s findings of the overuse of chemical restraints on aged care residents.

New restrictions mean that from January 1, doctors will have to apply for special approval to prescribe chemical restraints.

A further $10 million will be dedicated to training for support of dementia patients, and $4.7 million to help relocate young and disabled people from aged care homes into more appropriate facilities.

Mr Morrison described the process of unearthing horrific accounts from the aged care sector as “a very uncomfortable exercise for all” and promised more funding once the Royal Commission delivers its final report, which is due in November next year.

“I think there are few families around the country, my own included, who are unfamiliar with the difficult decisions that are made about relatives and loved ones who are placed into aged care facilities,” the Prime Minister said.

“The funding and structure of these commercial centres, and not-for-profit too, by the way, obviously is impacted by the change in how demand is finding its way into the system.

“A lot of facilities have been built on the long-stay, lower care requirements.

“People sometimes choosing not to take those places up and stay at home and get in-home care places. It’s a sector going through a lot of structural change.”

Aged Care Minister Richard Colbeck acknowledged that the aged care system and funding model was “generally recognised as not being fit for purpose any longer”, as was highlighted in the Royal Commission’s interim report.

AMA President Dr Tony Bartone has described the funding package as inadequate, saying much more money was needed to fix the sector.

“The Aged Care Royal Commission has exposed incredible neglect, mismanagement, under-resourcing, and underfunding. Put simply, this money just isn’t enough,” the AMA immediately responded in a tweeted message.

Council on the Ageing chief executive Ian Yates welcomed the announcement but said the “missing piece of the puzzle” was a strategy to get the median waiting time for home care packages down from 180 days to 60 days. He described it as “ad hoc”.

Aged Care Crisis spokeswoman Lynda Saltarelli said the announcement was “small first steps” that fall a long way short of the changes needed.

National Seniors Australia spokesman Ian Henschke said the Government had not met the most dire need in the sector.

Shadow Ageing Minister Julie Collins said the funding was nowhere near enough.

“To announce 10,000 packages when the Royal Commissioners have said it is neglect to have 120,000 older Australians still waiting on the home care list is simply not good enough,” she said.

“This is just a drop in the ocean for what is required.”

 CHRIS JOHNSON

  

  • $496.3m for 10,000 more home packages
  • $25.5m for medication management (chemical restraints)
  • $10m  for dementia training for workers
  • $4.7 m for targets for removing young people from aged care sector

 


Published: 29 Nov 2019