If the rumours coming out of Canberra are to be believed, the Government will be splashing plenty of cash around when it delivers the Federal Budget next week in Canberra. But, will any of that money make it through to the sectors that are desperately crying out for funding?
Leading Age Services Australia (LASA) CEO Sean Rooney advocates that aged care requires urgent funding support in the 2018–19 Federal Budget to ensure quality services are available for older Australians where and when they need them.
According to Mr Rooney, one of the key aged care priorities of the Federal Budget should be additional support for residential aged care providers to address financial sustainability concerns driven by the combination of increased costs and reduced Government subsidies.
Funding for over 100,000 older Australians on the home care national queue who are assessed as requiring care at home, but unable to access a home care package commensurate with their assessed level of need should also be a high priority in this year’s Budget, according to Mr Rooney.
Mr Rooney said a ‘stronger Australian economy’ has delivered much higher revenue to Government, thereby providing increased capacity to support aged care.
“I am calling on the Federal Government to prioritise the care of older Australians,” Mr Rooney said.
The Government has recently announced $4.8 billion of additional revenue from higher than estimated tax receipts to the Commonwealth.
“This revenue provides scope to address the needs of the growing number of older Australians.”
Mr Rooney said recent changes to residential care funding arrangements have contributed to a squeeze on the cost of delivering care and on the sustainability of provider organisations.
“While overall Government subsidies in residential aged care are growing year on year, this is largely addressing the increasing number of residents being cared for rather than the complex actual needs of these residents,” Mr Rooney said.
“In particular, the Aged Care Funding Instrument simply allocates a fixed pool of funds and is not suitably responsive to the level of frailty among residents.”
New data recently released by independent industry analyst StewartBrown shows that 41 per cent of residential aged care providers were making a loss as at December 2017 compared with 31 per cent in 2015–16, and the situation is predicted to get even worse.
The inability of aged care providers to turn a profit has an effect on the continuity of residential care services, as well as on investment in new residential care facilities and on refurbishing existing ones.
With Australia predicted to need another 83,500 beds over the next 10 years to meet the rising demand, the Government needs to address the situation quickly.
“Similarly, we have seen the national queue for home care packages continue to grow to over 100,000, with some on the waiting list forced into residential care sooner than they would prefer due to unavailability of packages, which is costing government even more,” Mr Rooney said.
“Unless there is urgent action in the 2018–19 Budget that addresses these issues, there will be significant impacts for older Australians, age services providers and the Government.”
What do you think? Does aged care need more Federal Government support in this year’s Budget?