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Ahead of the 2018-19 Federal Budget, to be released on May 8, now is the time to have your say on the need for more funding for aged services, for both home care services and residential aged care.

Maybe you are one of the more than 100,000 older Australians who are on the national home care package queue, unable to access care and support at your assessed level of need?

Perhaps you’re a frustrated family member, trying to access quality care for your loved one in their own home, to give you both the support you need, but you are told you’ve got at least a 12-month wait for a package?

Perhaps you’ve had an experience in an aged care facility where a lack of funding meant you or a loved one were not getting the care and attention they needed?

More work and funds are urgently needed one to ensure older Australians have timely access to care and support – both in their own homes and in residential aged care.

What needs to be done

Home care funding

The Increasing Choice in Home Care (ICHC) reforms implemented in early 2017 gave older Australians greater choice and control over their in-home care support and services.

While this was a positive move, the national queue for home care packages continues to grow.

In a policy environment predicated on older Australians ageing in place, close to family and friends and being part of local communities, it is unacceptable that a growing waiting list of more than 100,000 older Australians assessed as requiring care in their homes, but unable to get the level of care required, continues.

This situation impacts on the health and wellbeing of older Australians, and results in higher costs to governments in the form of premature entries into residential aged care, and/or avoidable presentations to hospital emergency departments, and/or unwarranted hospital admissions.

Seasons is joining with Leading Aged Care Services Australia (LASA) to call for urgent funding for home care, including:

• Exploring recouping unspent funds in existing Home Care Packages (LASA estimates this to be between $200 million and $350 million) and redirecting this money to create possibly up to 4,000 new Level 3 and 4,000 new level 4 packages (funded from existing budget allocation).
• Creating additional new Level Three and Level Four HCPs in response to priority demand on the national queue (every $100 million per annum injection would purchase 1,150 Level 3 and 1,150 level 4 packages).
• Adoption of the Tune Report recommendations to ensure fairer home care consumer contributions for those who can afford it.

Residential Aged Care funding

In the Residential Aged Care space, successive Australian governments have withdrawn around $3 billion of funding from aged care since 2014. New data recently released by independent industry analyst StewartBrown shows that 41% of residential aged care providers were making a loss at December 2017 compared with 31% in 2015-16 – and the situation is predicted to get even worse.

The urgent action required is as follows:

• Short-term funding relief for all residential aged care providers set at roughly 3 per cent of residential aged care ACFI funding, amounting to around $350 million per annum, and
• An increase in the regional, rural and remote viability supplement to ensure ongoing provision of services in regional settings.
• Or other measures/alternatives equivalent to resolving the scale of the presenting issue.

Unless there is urgent action in the 2018-19 Budget that addresses these situations, there will be significant impacts for older Australians, home care and residential care providers, and the Government.

How you can help

To get more voices behind this campaign, we’d love for you to share your experience or frustrations with your local MP. A template letter to get you started is available to download here.

We all can have our say on the aged services we receive now and in the future and if we join together to demand these from our politicians, hopefully we can improve aged care outcomes in this country.

Nick Loudon
Nick Loudon is Group Chief Executive Officer of Seasons Aged Care and a Board Director of Leading Age Services Australia (LASA). Nick has more than 35 years clinical and executive management experience in the hospital and aged care sector and believes passionately that advanced age is not a ‘disease’. His vision is that aged care with a focus on quality of life and respect for the choices of our elders can be delivered in any location.