Key changes to the Living Longer Living Better Aged Care Reforms have been introduced with a new Home Care Packages Program providing four levels of care to assist older Australians living at home.
“An extra $880 million will increase the number of Home Care packages from 60,000 to 100,000 over the next five years. “An extra $285 million will fund new ‘dementia’ and ‘Veterans’ supplements for an estimated 24,000 Australians with dementia, as well as Veterans with mental health conditions, in their own homes and in aged care homes.
“And a new $1.1 billion Workforce Supplement will fund wage increases for the nation’s 350,000 aged care staff, recognising the need for quality staff and better wages and conditions,” Ms Collins added.
The packages are delivered under a Consumer Directed Care model, providing people with choice and flexibility in how care is provided.
“From today, Australia’s Aged Care Commissioner will have greater powers, to independently examine decisions of the Aged Care Complaints Scheme and to order a new resolution process that takes his views into account,” Ms Collins, added. “These are the most substantial reforms to Australia’s aged care system in a generation and follow a Productivity Commission review and extensive consultation with the sector, older Australians and their families.
Leading Age Services Australia (LASA) CEO Patrick Reid has raised concern over comments Ms Collins made regarding ‘extra’ and ‘new’ funding for age services, saying they fail to recognise increases have come through the redirection of age services funding in other areas.
“Leading Age Services is supportive of many of the changes that are taking place and has worked with Government to help implement change,” Mr Reid said. “It was extremely disappointing to read today some of the Minister’s comments about age services funding, and in particular her comments about ‘new’ and ‘extra’ funding.
“Nearly $2.6 billion of aged care funding over the Forward Estimates has actually been redirected. The funding which some might call ‘extra’ or ‘new’, would have previously been directed to age services providers, to undertake their important work in caring for older Australians. “Providers of age services do remarkable work in caring for older Australians 24 hours a day, every day. But it will be an enormous challenge for many providers implementing significant policy change, while also remaining financially viable.”
Mr Reid also noted the Minister’s comments about the Productivity Commission Report, which was both commissioned and considered by the Government.
“The complete story is that the Productivity Commission Report, Caring for Older Australians, made many recommendations, but the Government has been selective in what has been implemented,” Mr Reid said.
“Leading Age Services Australia continues to call on the Government to implement the recommendations of the Productivity Commission Report, Caring for Older Australians, in full, to appropriately and best recognise the care needs facing all older Australians.”
Mr Reid said that while the industry’s goal is to continue to work in a productive way with the Minister for Mental Health and Ageing, greater recognition of the challenges in implementing change to age services is needed.
“A viable age services industry, while providing care that all older Australians deserve, must be a priority of any Government.”