Older Australians receive less support than people who qualify for NDIS

Leading Age Services Australia (LASA) says the range of support and care available to older Australians pales in comparison to the support options available to NDIS participants.

“Australians with a disability receive much needed care and support through the NDIS, which includes choice and flexibility according to their needs,” says LASA chief executive officer Sean Rooney.

“The NDIS shows how, with commitment, we can meet the needs of those in need of support in our community. As the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety found, our aged care system is a long way from this, describing it in its final report as ‘unacceptable’ and ‘unsustainable’.”

LASA’s report found that “NDIS participants receive whatever support is reasonable and necessary (with no cap), whereas people in aged care are classified into programs and bands with capped funding”.

“Average annual support utilised in the NDIS equates to about $52,000, whereas the average annualised support for a person in aged care is about $17,000.”

Read more: Australians want to build or renovate, not go into aged care

After the release of the royal commission, aged care minister Richard Colbeck said it served as “a wakeup call for us all; an opportunity to draw a line in the sand”.

“In this future, senior Australians must have access to safe, high quality and compassionate care services, price transparency, a guaranteed level of quality and mandatory safety standards. For providers, we expect to see a culture of quality across the sector with an engaged and skilled workforce delivering compassionate and respectful care,” he said.

The commission made 148 recommendations, including making access to quality aged care a legal and enforceable right. A five-year plan was promised for the 11 May Federal Budget.

The Australian reported that a 63-year-old vision-impaired man on the NDIS is receiving $86,000 a year more in government assistance than an 84-year-old man with similar issues on an aged care Home Support Package.

“Total government funding for aged care recipients averages around one-quarter of that allocated to NDIS participants,” Mr Rooney said.

“Overall, we see less funding per aged care recipient and this results in fewer available hours of care when compared with NDIS participants, plus there are limits placed on funding in aged care for reablement, social engagement, behaviour support, care management and assistive technology.

“The majority of support services for NDIS participants (82 per cent) are concerned with supporting activities of daily living and engaging in social and community activities. These support types are similar to those identified within aged care programs,” it says.

Read more: Funding for aged care fix unclear

LASA and an alliance of aged care providers launched a campaign targeting 15 marginal seats within the top 30 electorates that have the highest percentage of constituents aged over 55.

“Six of the marginal seats identified are currently held by Liberal MPs, including health and aged care minister Greg Hunt, whose electorate, Flinders, is ranked 8 with 50.7 per cent of constituents aged over 55,” reported insideageing.com.au.

The campaign claimed Australia devotes less than half of what comparable countries do to aged care (1.2 per cent vs 2.5 per cent of GDP). Denmark and Sweden allocate more than 4 per cent of GDP. The campaign is lobbying for $55 billion to be spent over the next 10 years to support an extra 88,000 residential aged care places.

How much extra should we pay to improve aged care in Australia? What should the government announce in the budget?

LASA’s conclusions

  • There is a substantial difference in support between aged care and NDIS programs, which appears to reflect differences in the hours of care available, though differences also exist in the level of support for reablement, social engagement, behaviour support, care management and assistive technology.
  • Rather than allowing different tasks to be completed, we hypothesise that differences in support levels allow NDIS participants to receive closer monitoring, more social and emotional support and more relationship based care than people receiving aged care.
  • Noting the momentum for aged care reform, there must ultimately be funding equity in aged care that is on par with disability to realise reasonable and necessary supports for achieving high quality consumer outcomes.

Is enough being done for senior Australians? Can we afford to deliver NDIS levels of care for older Australians?

Read more: Boffin wants Aussies to fund their own aged care

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