A $15 million per year dementia respite supplement, and quarantining aged care specific workforce programs are among sector proposals to government for the 2016-17 federal budget.
In the wake of the 2015-16 Mid Year Economic Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) cuts to subsidies under the Aged Care Funding Instrument, there is an urgent need for a strategic review of how aged care was funded to “avoid reported episodes of destabilising changes to contain costs,” said peak body Aged and Community Services Australia.
In its budget submission ACSA argued that it was “untenable to adjust funding and indexation at short notice as it leads to uncertainty around revenue and leads to unstable platform for consumers and providers alike.”
The peak recommended sector input into reform to ensure programs can be delivered by a diverse and viable range of providers, that information and education was supplied to providers well ahead of reform implementation, and called for more resourcing and support before and after reform.
ACSA also reiterated its previous position that funding for aged care specific workforce programs be quarantined, arguing the program cuts announced during MYEFO risked reducing the supply of potential workers in the sector. Further, it asked the government to commit to a framework for the long-term funding of aged care workforce needs, including the development and implementation of an aged care workforce development strategy.
Impacts of CDC rollout to residential
The implementation of consumer directed care in residential aged care was also raised in ACSA’s submission, and it proposed that more information be developed about associated expectations and responsibilities in its implementation. It suggested any move towards CDC in residential be introduced gradually, and that funding be put aside for research and the trialling of alternative models.
Elsewhere, Alzheimer’s Australia’s has called for a “dementia respite supplement” of $15 million per year in its budget submission. The proposed supplement, similar to that which is currently provided in community care, would further incentivise providers to offer dementia-specific respite, noting that at present, many respite providers “turn away” those with dementia.
Alzheimer’s Australia said that while government had implemented a number of measures to improve the quality of residential aged care to support those with dementia, “further work is required if we are to achieve an aged care system that achieves the level of quality and transparency that consumers demand.”
Consumer audit program
The consumer peak said it was difficult for consumers to determine the quality of dementia care within residential aged care, and recommended the development of a consumer-driven initiative to monitor the delivery of quality dementia care, including a consumer-audit and feedback program.
Alzheimer’s Australia said that current feedback from consumers suggested My Aged Care is unable to provide the level of service and support required by people with dementia and their families. It called for $2 million per year to expand its website and helpline in order to provide a one-stop-shop for information on dementia-specific services, policy and supports, to complement My Aged Care.
Other recommendations from Alzheimer’s Australia included:
- Funding of an education program on advance care planning and end-of-life care for those with dementia
- Increased investment in dementia research to achieve $80 per year by 2050
- Integrated approach to education about dementia diagnosis across health and aged care
Today is the closing date for budget submissions. Submissions can be made on the Treasury website.
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