The 2021-22 Federal Budget announcement included some positive developments in much needed funding of the aged care sector.
The Government will provide $698.3 million over five years from 2020-21 as part of the $17.7 billion response to the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety to improve safety and quality and the availability of aged care services.
According to the Budget papers, the allocation of funding will include:
- $630.2 million to improve access to quality aged care services for consumers in regional, rural and remote areas including those with Indigenous backgrounds and special needs groups
- $26.7 million over four years to develop a new aged care Act to replace both the Aged Care Act 1997 and the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission Act 2018
- $21.1 million over four years from 1 July 2021 to establish the National Aged Care Advisory Council to provide advice to Government on the aged care sector including implementation of the aged care reforms and a Council of Elders to provide advice to Government on quality and safety in the aged care sector
- $13.4 million in 2021-22 to establish regional offices as a first phase of a nation-wide rollout to improve advice to Government on issues impacting the delivery of aged care in regional and rural areas
- $6.8 million over three years from 2021-22 for information and engagement with the aged care sector, aged care users and their families about aged care reforms.
Importantly, the package includes funding to redesign the home care program and hopefully improve the method in which this program can be delivered.
Currently, it is difficult to understand what care seniors are entitled to, how much it costs, who can provide that care, and how much of the home care package is allocated to actual care vs administration costs.
Unfortunately, for many older Australian’s, the waiting list for the home care program is implausibly long, so any funding will go some way in alleviating some of the weaknesses in the system for at-risk seniors.
There was also an absence of measures in the Budget that specifically addresses the complexity of the funding model for residential aged care. The only suggestion of it being addressed was in the form of “additional investment in digital and face-to-face assistance to make it easier to navigate”. The sector is currently awaiting further clarification on this, but we hope it can be addressed in a practical and tangible way for the benefit of those that need it most.