Uncapping the supply of aged care places, recognising end of life care as a national health priority and finalising a national aged care workforce strategy are some of the key commitments aged care stakeholders are seeking from the major parties during the 2016 election campaign.
The National Aged Care Alliance has kicked off its national election campaign by calling on the Federal Government to release the modelling behind the $1.2 billion aged care savings measures proposed in the May budget.
The alliance of 48 stakeholder groups launched the Australians Deserve to Age Well campaign on Monday in a bid to put aged care on the election agenda after what it described as silence so far from the major parties on how they would address the aged care needs of older Australians.
While the campaign targeted all political parties, NACA specifically called on the Coalition Government to release the modelling that led to a $1.2 billion adjustment of residential aged care funding in the recent Federal Budget.
Aged and Community Services Australia president Paul Sadler said: “We need to see the modelling and assumptions used to justify this significant reduction in projected growth.”
He further called on all political parties to commit to a return to an open, transparent, and collaborative process between aged care stakeholders and the department.
Elsewhere, NACA’s campaign again called for the uncapping of supply of aged care places so that older people received the care they needed without having to wait for it.
COTA Australia CE Ian Yates said despite some multi-partisan steps in the right direction in recent years, older people still languished on waiting lists because there were not enough aged care packages.
“We are calling on all political parties in the 2016 federal election to commit to a timetable to end the aged care lottery,” Mr Yates said. “It is not good enough that thousands of people are forced to wait months and in some cases years to access the level of care and support the Government’s own independent assessment says they need.”
Similarly, Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation acting federal secretary Annie Butler said the capping of aged care places created an inequitable system.
“We need an aged care system that meets the demands for care required, not one that means we have to turn people in need away,” she said.
Individual stakeholder campaigns
Aged & Community Services Australia (ACSA) launched its election campaign “Old, frail and invisible” last Thursday with an aim of highlighting the issues impacting older people resulting from recent budget measure, the aged care workforce and industry sustainability.
ACSA president Paul Sadler said the campaign would be rolled out over coming weeks with aged care providers demanding a response from politicians on these three key issues.
ACSA’s position statement is calling on politicians to:
- Halt the impact of the 2016/17 budget cuts on vulnerable older people in residential aged care. It said there should be no cuts until a genuine consultative review of ACFI is undertaken including provision of evidence to support changes.
- Provide a transition fund for home care “to assist providers to deal with looming significant reform, improve system implementation and ensure services are available and accessible to older people.”
- Finalise a National Aged Services Workforce Strategy and deliver funds for the development of local programs to guarantee a workforce for the future.
Leading Age Services Australia (LASA) has sought a commitment from all political parties to reverse $3.1 billion in funding cuts to aged care.
LASA spokesperson Beth Cameron said cumulative federal policy and funding decisions since 2014-15 have stripped $3.1 billion from Australia’s aged care system including $1.7 billion in the last six months from services to manage the complex care needs of seniors and services that enhance wellbeing and quality of life.
In its election manifesto LASA has sought political parties to:
- Commit to funding stability and a forecasted funding growth rate based on evidence to ensure ongoing viability and capability to meet demand.
- Accelerate red tape reduction and simplified systems for providers and consumers.
- Co-design policies with industry that support competition, driving innovation and investment.
- Enable industry to remove existing constraints to support a robust, flexible and suitably qualified workforce.
Alzheimer’s Australia is calling for the government to commit to implementing a comprehensive, funded national approach to supporting people with dementia that builds on the National Framework for Action on Dementia 2015-2019, as part of its election campaign.
As a first step Alzheimer’s Australia is asking all political parties to commit to addressing and funding the following three priorities:
- $1.3 million to make Australia a more dementia-friendly place for people with dementia
- $15 million per annum for dementia-specific respite services
- $1 million per annum to improve quality of care in aged care led by consumers
According to the results of a Roy Morgan public survey commissioned by Alzheimer’s Australia and undertaken this month, nine in 10 Australians want the government to tackle dementia.
Alzheimer’s Australia CEO Carol Bennett said the findings indicated that dementia was a major priority for voters this federal election.
“Dementia is the second leading cause of death in this country, people with dementia and their carers need to see effective dementia policies from all sides of government to address this condition that is set to outstrip all other health spending by 2060,” Ms Bennett said.
Elsewhere, the survey found that just 25 per cent of respondents felt confident that high quality services would be available in the event they needed to find an aged care facility for themselves or a family member with dementia, while 80 per cent said the government should provide information, such as ratings, on quality of life of residents in aged care facilities.
Palliative Care Australia has used its election statement to call for end-of-life care to be recognised as a National Health Priority.
PCA CEO Liz Callaghan said death was the most ignored part of life but this action would acknowledge the importance of palliative care and end-of-life care as being part of life.
“In the lead up to this federal election, PCA is asking political parties to consider making end-of-life care a National Health Priority. In doing so they will be responding to this issue which touches all in Australia and help to shine a light on issues of quality of care,” Ms Callaghan said.
The PCA election statement has called for a total of $53.35 million to support the following:
- programs that improve access to high quality palliative care
- a national Dying to Talk Campaign
- families and carers of people who are dying
- improved quality and evidence to support the development of palliative care policies and programs into the future
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