Spotlight on aged care

Funding for aged care has increased by $7 billion over the forward estimates, up from $13.3 billion in 2012–13 to $20.5 billion in 2018–19 to $25.4 billion in 2022–23.

But the Opposition insists there are no new announcements for older Australians in this Budget.

Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt said the Government has increased the number of home care packages from 60,308 in 2012–13 to 124,032 in 2018–19 and 157,154 in 2022–23 as part of an ongoing response to senior Australians’ “clear preference “to receive aged care in their own homes and live independently for longer.

“With the rapid growth in home care, the Government is providing $5.6 million to strengthen compliance to tackle the risk of poor quality service and fraud,” Mr Wyatt said.

“The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission – Australia’s new cop on the aged care beat – will have a key role, including increasing home care audits. “The Commonwealth Home Support Program will be extended for a further two years to 30 June 2022, representing an investment of $5.9 billion. This will give certainty to around 1500 organisations, such as meals-on-wheels, supporting almost one million older Australians as they age and start to require assistance while still living in their own home.

“In residential aged care, the Government has invested $320 million in 2018–19 as a one-off increase to the general subsidy through to 30 June 2020. This will support the increase in residential places from 186,000 in 2012–13 to 212,000 in 2018–19 to 243,000 in 2022–23.”

The Minister said the Government would also work to significantly improve monitoring and reporting of serious incidents involving residents, including incidents involving physical or chemical restraint.

Funding of $7.7 million will help to ensure the use of medication, in particular inappropriate use of psychotropics and antibiotics, in residential aged care is brought into line with best practice and community expectations. Clinical pharmacists will work directly with aged care providers to better inform them about appropriate use. Providers will be obliged to provide medication management data.

But Shadow Minister for Ageing Julie Collins described the Budget as “cruel hoax” on older Australians.

Ms Collins said seniors had been left behind with this Budget, who are now waiting years for care they have been approved for.

“There is nothing new in this Budget for older Australians – the Liberals are all out of ideas,” she said.

“128,000 older Australians are now waiting for a home care package but the Budget does not deliver one new package the Government hasn’t already announced.”