aged care funds boosted ahead of inquiry

Aged care funds boosted ahead of inquiry

Australia

Every Australian living in residential aged care will have an extra $1800 spent on services for them by the middle of this year, as part of a $662 million funding windfall.

The money will also allow an extra 10,000 older people to receive subsidised care in their homes.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has unveiled the funding boost on Sunday, ahead of the first hearings of a royal commission into aged care.

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The extra home-care packages – which account for $282.4 million of the new money – will give Australians more choice about how and where they live their lives, he says.

“Older Australians have worked hard all their life, paid taxes and done their fair share, and they deserve our support,” Mr Morrison said in a statement.

The nation’s leading advocacy group for seniors, COTA Australia, believes the new home-care funding will reduce the time people are waiting to receive subsidised services.

The group is also glad an extra $320 million will be paid to residential facilities by mid-2019 – equivalent to about $1800 per Australian resident – to help improve services for people in the centres.

But it wishes the funding was tied to lifting the number of staff at the centres and improving training.

“It is disappointing there are no conditions attached,” COTA Australia chief executive Ian Yates said.

“I expect many of the issues and unsatisfactory practices that will be raised during the Aged-Care Royal Commission, which begins its first hearings tomorrow, will be attributed to inadequate staff numbers and poor staff training and development.”

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The latest funding boost comes after the government announced $550 million in new funding in December, which also included 10,000 new home-care packages.

Those packages were for Australians with high-level care needs, while the latest will be those across all care levels.

The coalition has now announced an extra 40,000 packages in the past year, which COTA Australia says is still short of what is needed.

That comes after the latest Department of Health annual report put the total number of home care packages delivered in 2017/18 at about 100,000.