The federal budget will fund 80,000 new home care packages as part of a $17.7 billion aged care investment.
The commitment comes in response to the aged care royal commission which had called for the more than 100,000 strong home care waiting list to be wiped out by the end of this year.
Releasing the budget on Tuesday night, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the package also contained funding for 13,000 new home care workers, increased respite services and to boost the regulatory regime, including extending the Serious Incident Response Scheme to home care .
Aged care infrastructure in regional and remote areas will also be upgraded.
“We are committed to restoring trust in the system allowing Australians to age with dignity and respect,” Mr Frydenberg said.
“This is a very comprehensive program of initiatives in response to the aged care royal commission and I think it’ll make a lot of difference on the ground.”
Support to stay at home
The 80,000 new home care packages, predominantly level 3 and 4, would be released over the next two years and bring the total number available to 275,000 by June 2023, the Treasurer said.
All up, the budget commits $7.5 billion to support older Australians to remain at home, including $6.5 billion for 40,000 home care packages to be released in 2021-22 and another 40,000 the following year.
The budget also commits $228.2 million to developing a single assessment workforce by the end of 2022, and $10.8 million to design and plan a new support at home program by the end of 2023.
To prepare for these future reforms, CHSP grant agreements will be extended for one year from 1 July 2022 to 30 June 2023, with most CHSP providers transitioning to payment in arrears.
There’s also $18.4 million over four years to improve oversight and transparency in home care, and $91.8 million over two years to train 13,000 new home care workers.
Informal carers will be targeted with a $798.3 million allocation, including respite services for 8,400 people each year, while $272.5 million will go towards enhancing face-to-face services to make accessing and navigating the aged care system easier.
Sector says funding will bring reform
The Australian Aged Care Collaboration (AACC), which represents more than 1,000 providers, welcomed the record funding which it said would bring historic aged care reform.
AACC representative Patricia Sparrow said the budget, and the government’s response to the royal commission’s recommendations, finally addressed many of the challenges facing aged care.
“This budget gives real hope to more than 1.3 million Australians currently accessing aged care services, to the 360,000 care staff who provide critical services around the country every day, and to the tens of thousands of Australian workers our sector will need to employ over the coming years to meet the demands of our ageing population,” she said.
Council on the Ageing Australia said the new home care packages were very welcome and should easily remove any waiting list.
“COTA has long been campaigning for more home care packages and is pleased the government has responded to its repeated calls for a better home care program that makes consumers genuine partners in the design and delivery of their care,” chief executive Ian Yates said.
“The reform to the system with a single assessment service and a single Support at Home program is critical to ensuring that older Australians stay at home for as long as they choose.”
Read about how the budget will affect residential care.
Access the budget papers.
This story first ran on Community Care Review.