Budget progresses aged care reforms, says COTA

Federal Budget advances reforms of aged care system, said peak advocacy body chief Ian Yates.

While yesterday’s Federal Budget contained few surprises for the aged care sector, overall, it further advances the royal commission reforms, Council on the Ageing Australia chief executive Ian Yates told Australian Ageing Agenda.

“The package as a whole continues to develop the reform process,” said Mr Yates. “We did not expect a lot of new initiatives outside the pharmacist initiative that had already been announced.”

The 2022-23 Budget includes $468 million for the aged care sector, bringing the government’s total five-pillar response package to the royal commission to $18.8 billion.

One of the few new aged care announcements in the Budget was news that the incoming residential aged care funding model – AN-ACC, which begins 1 October this year – will receive a further $20.1 million to support the transition from the old system to the new.

COTA –the country’s peak advocacy body for older Australians – is concerned about the recording requirement of the new funding model which obliges facilities to document the amount of care minutes allocated to each bed.

Mr Yates said the system will score a facility on how well they meet targets without publishing the exact minutes of care that should have been delivered for the funding received.

Ian Yates

“While the increased transparency included in the government’s reform package is appreciated, more transparency is required to ensure funding is being spent as it is intended,” said Mr Yates.

“Australian families deserve to know if the government is spending on average $225 per day to deliver 200 minutes of care. We call on the government to commit to publishing this information for every nursing home across the country as part of their star rating system.”

The biggest Budget disappointment, said Mr Yates, was the absence of a commitment on oral and dental health, which COTA has lobbied for over many years. “We are calling on both parties to commit to an oral and dental health program for low-to-mid-income older Australians,” he said.

Responding to the government’s failure to increase workforce wages, Mr Yates told AAA any kind of wage hike would first have to be determined by the Fair Work Commission. “We anticipate that there will be a significant outcome from the Fair Work Commission,” he said, “but government can’t put that in the Budget when it doesn’t know what it is.”

While acknowledging that a sector wage increase “is a necessary part of rebuilding the aged care workforce”, Mr Yates said other reforms were also essential. “If we are to have a customer-focused aged care system, we need well-paid but also well-trained and skilled and empowered frontline staff who can respond appropriately to residents, and have enough time to do so.”

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Tags: AN-ACC, budget 2022, cota, ian yates, royal commission,

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