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While the 2018-19 budget contained welcome news for aged care, according to Australia’s voice of aged care, Leading Age Services Australia (LASA), there is still more work to be done.

Key announcements included 14,000 new high-level home care packages over four years, the addition of 13,500 residential aged care places and a capital investment of $60 million to support new places.

LASA CEO Sean Rooney said while these are all steps in the right direction, Australia is facing a ‘new normal’ as the ‘baby boomers’ generation ages and this Budget does not provide the system settings and the funding levels to meet the growing demand.

“The Budget provides some good news for older Australians seeking care in their own home with more than 14,000 new high-level home care packages funded over four years, following on from the extra 6,000 high-level packages delivered in the second half of 2017,” says Mr Rooney.

“Safety and quality in aged care are not negotiable and we also welcome the Government’s budget announcement of $50 million for residential aged care funding to transition to a new quality regime.

“Measures to support ageing-well, including mental health, active ageing and a pensions loan scheme, are particularly welcome, along with specific measures to support the provision of aged care services in rural communities, such as $40 million for infrastructure maintenance and upgrades.”

Other aged care initiatives announced in the 2018-19 Budget include:

  • 775 short-term restorative care places in the 2018‑19 Aged Care Approvals Round will be released, with a $60 million capital investment to support new places;
  • Funding of $105.7 million over four years from 2018‑19 (including $32.0 million from within the existing resources) to support the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flexible Aged Care Program to deliver additional residential aged care places and home care packages in remote Indigenous communities;
  • Capital grants funding of $40.0 million over four years from 2019‑20 for aged care facilities in regional, rural and remote Australia;
  • The development of a new Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission from 1 January 2019.
  • $50.0 million over two years from 2018‑19 for a Better Quality of Care program to assist residential aged care providers to transition to a new quality standards framework;
  • Funding of $82.5 million over four years from 2018‑19 for mental health services for people in residential aged care facilities;
  • $5.3 million over four years from 2018‑19 for the development of technological solutions to support people living with dementia to better manage their care; and
  • $32.8 million over four years to deliver palliative care in residential aged care. Contingent on State’s matching funding.

While these budget initiatives individually, and collectively respond (in part) to the growing demands for age services in Australia and are welcomed by the industry, Mr Rooney says that it was hoped that it would also map out the longer term needs of Australia’s ageing population.

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“This Budget does not adequately address the growing complexity of residents’ needs, changing consumer and community expectations, and rising operating costs, which are all placing increasing financial pressure on residential care providers and the overall aged care system,” says Mr Rooney.

“Ultimately, what Australia requires is the development of a long-term, sustainable funding strategy to ensure that the needs of older Australians can be met,” Mr Rooney said.

“We need a strategy that will resolve aged care funding for the next two decades as our country transitions to supporting the ‘baby boomer’ generation to age well.”

Belinda Peters
Belinda brings more than 17 years experience in journalism to her role as Seasons Digital Content Writer. As our blog editor, Belinda will take the confusion out of aged care with entertaining and informative stories from across the aged care industry and our Seasons communities.