The Federal Government has announced residential aged care will receive an additional $320 million as part of its new $662 million package to support older Australians.
The funding will equate to an additional $1,800 per resident and will be provided over the next 18-months to support the delivery of quality care services, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.
Of the $662 million, $4.2 million will go towards a national aged care quality indicator program and $4.6 million towards replacing the Aged Care Funding Instrument with a trial of a new residential care funding tool.
“We need to have a culture of respect and care and that’s why I announced the Royal Commission into Aged Care. It’s why as Prime Minister and Treasurer I have delivered thousands of additional home care places,” Mr Morrison said.
Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Ken Wyatt used the announcement to defend the government’s aged care funding.
“Aged care funding is increasing by about $1 billion each year,” he said.
The government also announced it would invest an additional $282.4 million for 10,000 home care packages and $7.7 million to enhance the safety, quality and integrity of home care.
Home care supplements for dementia and cognition for veterans will be increased by $35.7 million and $7.4 million towards a business advisory service for both residential and home care providers to improve operations (read more here).
Aged care and consumer peak bodies Aged and Community Services Australia, Leading Age Services Australia and COTA Australia all welcomed the additional funding.
ACSA CEO Pat Sparrow said it will help providers support their residents.
“The $320 million boost for residential aged care also provides much needed support for older Australians and the providers who are caring for them. This is an immediate one-off payment while the trial of a new funding model.” Ms Sparrow said.
“We all want to get residential care funding right to be able to meet the growing demand and complexity of resident needs,” she said.
LASA CEO Sean Rooney said the funding boost is a welcome short-term measure, however the announcement of the trial funding tool acknowledges ACFI as an inadequate approach.
“It is the core funding arrangements for the sector, and how the funding tool is able to respond to the true cost of care, that has been our biggest ongoing concern,” Mr Rooney said.
He said the trial should also include research on staffing models to better understand what will best meet the growing and changing needs of older Australians accessing residential care.
COTA Australia CEO Ian Yates said there are concerns that the government has not tied the $320 million extra in funding to better staffing.
“It is disappointing there are no conditions attached to require providers to use the additional funding to increase staff numbers and/or support workforce training and development programs that will lift the standard of care in Australian nursing homes,” Mr Yates said.
The additional funding was announced yesterday ahead of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety holds its first hearing calling witnesses in Adelaide today.
Consumer peak body COTA Australia CEO Ian Yates and National Seniors CEO Professor John MacCallum are among the first to give evidence from the perspective of aged care recipients at the hearing today (read our story here).
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