The federal government will roll out 10,000 new home care packages from next month in response to the interim report of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has also pledged to provide a single assessment network and to meld HCP and CHSP to create a unified home care system, although he did not commit to a time frame.
The royal commission’s interim report, released on October 31, identified home care as one of three areas in need of immediate action, along with young people with disability in aged care facilities and the use of chemical restraints in residential care.
Mr Morrison on Monday responded with the announcement of a $537 million aged care funding package, with $496.3 million to go towards new home care packages.
The additional 10,000 home care packages will be weighted towards level 3 and level 4 packages, Mr Morrison said.
The creation of a single assessment workforce and single network of assessment organisations would help connect people to care sooner and stop the “revolving door of assessments”, he said.
An immediate response
Mr Morrison said Monday’s announcement represented an immediate response to the commission’s findings and foreshadowed further responses in next year’s budget.
“In commissioning the royal commission my intent was to ensure that we could shine quite a bright light, that we could learn deeply from the experiences and practices that the royal commission was able to identify and to assist us with an issue that was not new,” he told a media conference in Canberra.
“We’ve had the interim response from the royal commission, it is now our task to provide an immediate response to that interim report, and address the specific issues that they’ve highlighted.”
A single system
Health Minister Greg Hunt said the government accepted the finding of the royal commission and that there needs to be a “fundamental reform” to unify HCP and CHSP.
“This is an absolutely indispensable step forward to make this home care system which will address the needs of every senior Australian,” he said.
Mr Hunt said the government would ensure the provision of the additional home care packages would be tailored to ensure the capacity of the work force to expand in line with the capacity for safety and quality.
“The royal commission was very clear on this,” he said.
Aged Care minister Richard Colbeck said the first 5,500 home care packages would become available in the first year, noting the royal commissioners had not recommended “just flooding the market with additional packages” without workforce capacity.
Young people in aged care
The government will also invest $4.7 million to help remove young people from aged care and strengthen the targets of its younger people in residential age care action plan announced earlier this year.
Under the new targets anyone under 45 will be prevented from going into residential aged care by 2022, and there will be no one under 65 living in aged care facilities by 2025 unless it was their choice,” NDIS minister Stuart Robert told reporters.
“The government has fully embraced the interim recommendations of the royal commission in terms of meeting the younger people in aged care targets,” Mr Robert said.
A joint agency taskforce will also be established to ensure the targets were met, Mr Robert said, as well as a specialist NDIA team with 80 planners by 2020, to prevent people with disability form entering aged care.
“We’ll be working with all sectors of the economy including specialist disability accommodation providers, and providers of supported independent living to ensure these targets are met,” Mr Robert said.
Mr Morrison said it was too early to talk about what the full scope of reforms to aged care would look like once the royal commission has handed down its final report on November 12, 2020.
But he said the government wouldn’t have established the royal commission if it wasn’t prepared to deal with significant ramifications.
“We’re up for that,” he said.
Opposition spokeswoman on ageing Julie Collins said the additional home care packages were just a drop in the ocean.
“Today’s announcement falls well short of what is required,” she said.