• Will aged care see the funding it was promised?

    Will aged care see the funding it was promised?

    It is almost a year since the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety released its final report, which was the culmination of 28 months of work, with over 10,500 submissions.

    In May 2021, the Australian Government announced a $17.7 billion aged care reform package over five years. The aged care reform was built on five pillars, including home care, residential aged care services and sustainability, residential aged care quality and safety, workforce and governance.

    The big-ticket items included $6.5 billion for an additional 80,000 Home Care Packages, $3.9 billion to increase front line care for senior Australians living in residential aged care and $3.2 billion to support providers to deliver better care and services through a new Government Basic Daily Fee supplement and continued increases in the homeless and viability supplements.

    A new case-mix funding model, called AN-ACC, is planned be introduced in October 2022, with a purported increase in the residential funding base. From 1 July 2022, residential aged care facilities will be required to report on total care staffing minutes by registered nurses, enrolled nurses and personal care workers on a quarterly basis. This additional funding is essential to meet minimum care time standards from 1 October 2022, becoming mandatory from October 2023.

    Some of the initiatives require a change of legislation, yet it is not clear when the Federal Parliament will next sit to finalise the changes. These are contained in the Aged Care Royal Commission Response Bill No 2, which is still before the Senate. The delay may influence the timing of the additional funding.

    With the recent surge in Omicron cases across the country, the needs of older Australians have once again been thrust into the public’s consciousness.

    Older people deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. Protecting the most frail, vulnerable, older individuals, who need specialised and complex care and support, is a major concern for our society, not just aged care providers.

    The Royal Commission presented a once in a generation opportunity to make the necessary changes to the aged care system to ensure that it meets the needs of future generations.

    The promises made following the Royal Commission must be honoured, regardless of who gains power after the upcoming election. Everyone must show they care about aged care.

    Opinion piece by Darren Birbeck
    Chief Executive Officer
    Resthaven Incorporated