New funding for at-home aged care

As the 43rd parliament drew to a close in late June, aged care legislation which makes up part of the Federal Government’s Living Longer Living Better aged care reforms was passed. Former-Minister for Ageing Mark Butler said of the changes to the Aged Care Act 1997, “[the] aged care reform plan will deliver more choice, easier access and better care for older Australians, their families and carers”.

Now an increase in the number of Home Care Packages and residential aged care places has been announced. In total, 5835 new Home Care Packages will be offered, and a further 7775 residential aged care places will be created.

The new legislation has meant that Home Care Packages will now be provided on a Consumer Directed Care (CDC) basis. This means that older Australians, or those caring for them, will have more of a say in which services they receive, as well as how services will be delivered. Services included in Home Care Packages include personal care, house cleaning, home modifications, transport and clinical care.

The Labor Government aims to increase the number of Home Care Packages from 60,000 to approximately 140,000 over the next 10 years.

Find out more about Consumer Directed Care at the Department of Health and Ageing website

 

Opinion: Too little, but not too late

According to YOURLifeChoices website research, more than 90 per cent of Australians wish to age in their own homes, even after they begin to lose independence. This is not new information. Facilitating this desire is also the only way, given Australia’s current infrastructure, that we can deal with the steadily increasing number of older Australians who need care.

Fact: Australia’s population is on the rise.

Opinion: Australia does not seem to be coping well with this increase in numbers.

Public transport systems all over the country are the bane of all who use them. Traffic congestion is increasing at an exponential rate, and not just in city centres. Victoria is going through a hospital crisis, with ambulances left waiting on delivery ramps because there are no beds in which to put emergency patients, and other state hospital systems aren’t doing much better. School class sizes are increasing, Centrelink telephone hold times are getting longer and, if you have ever tried to get a parent or partner into aged care, you will be fully aware of how overstretched those facilities are.

If we keep trying to move the elderly into facilities then the system, which is already at breaking point, is not going to cope. I applaud the new funding for aged care, as it is definitely a step in the right direction. I do not, however, think that the spread of funding is what is really required.

The 140,000 Home Care Packages which have been promised over the next 10 years might sound like a lot, but they will only reach 0.6 per cent of the population (the 5835 from the recent announcement will only reach 0.03 per cent of Australians). Currently four per cent of Australia’s population is over 80 years of age and 14.4 per cent of the population is aged 65 and over. Although most 65-year-olds don’t yet need any level of care, it does give you an idea of what the system is going to need to cope with in the foreseeable future.

On a different note, while I think that Consumer Directed Care is a good idea in theory, how much information are we being given? Would you know how to best use a Consumer Directed Care package? In cases where the Government decides to hand over control of care to the individual, it seems like a no-brainer to me that the individual needs to be educated, something we have yet to experience.

What do you think? Is this funding an important first step? Or is the Government not taking the needs of Australia’s older population seriously enough?

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