With the federal election just days away, the Australian Physiotherapy Association is calling on the next government to commit to funding allied services for aged care residents.

The 2022-23 Federal Budget revealed that the Australian National Aged Care Classification funding model – which replaces the Aged Care Funding Instrument and comes into play on 1 October – has a starting price of $216.80 for a standard day of care with average resident funding expected to be approximately $225 per day.

However, APA gerontology group national chair Joanna Tan told Australian Ageing Agenda: “The AN-ACC funding model for residential aged care does not specify how residential facilities spend the money allocated for each resident, with many providers indicating that this money will not even be sufficient to provide for basic care and nursing.”

She added: “Without certainty of funding, residential facilities are looking to reduce allied health services to save money.”

Joanna Tan

Without specific funding for allied health services, the implication is that there is no budget for onsite or contracted allied health providers, she said.

“Whilst there is a requirement for residents to access allied health services as part of the Aged Care Act, these would be in response to events or for basic assessments and care planning, rather than provided as part of a holistic, ongoing service,“ Ms Tan told AAA.

According to Ms Tan, AN-ACC is forcing physiotherapists with specialised aged care experience to leave the sector. “Allied health providers are reporting there is uncertainty in the industry around the implementation of the new funding model with contracts not being renewed and physiotherapists reporting their hours being reduced, with many looking to leave the industry.”

Curtailing residents’ access to physiotherapy sessions will increase the risk of falls, she said. “If allied health staff are not present onsite for regular reviews and attending to referrals, there is reduced ability to implement coordinated multi-disciplinary interventions that help to prevent deterioration in function and prevent adverse events like falls.”

Having certainty of funding for allied health in residential aged care, “would allow providers to recruit and retain staff to continue to be on-site to provide appropriate, timely and proactive services,” said Ms Tan.

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3 Comments

  1. Physiotherapy is essential to older people and its loss will decrease both quality of life and life span itself. Furthermore, almost all other allied health services don’t even get a mention – so speech therapy, OTs, Mental Health specialists, social workers etc are apparently invisible in this space. Failure to fund and provide these services is virtually an acceptance that the last years of people’s lives will be noticeably less than they could be. It is institutionalised abuse and neglect.

  2. We are in total agreement with the summary and the effects no physio involved in the regular care of vulnerable residents it will have a sad negative outcome.
    Our overworked staff cannot not replace a qualified physio nor are they trained in this discipline
    For many years we have employed an on-site physio 5 days per week
    The AN-ACC tool will see us retreat from this arrangement , no certainty regarding funding

  3. I’m a physio in aged care, and like everyone we don’t know ANYTHING about how our residents are going to receive physio after 1st October. Allied health hours are being cut already, down 31% according to Mirus in March 2022. We started a campaign over a year ago to stop the #deathofalliedhealth and had 20,000 members of the public sign a senate petition lodged March 30th. Despite this, allied health contracts and services are still being cut all over the country well before 1st October when the AN-ACC starts. And Labor in opposition and now in government, have not committed in any way to allied health funding in aged care either. Older people, like veterans, who made our country the place it is now, deserve better.

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