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Budget boost lays the groundwork for improvements to aged care

Older Australians will sleep easier tonight with the knowledge that the Morrison Government has committed an additional $17.7 billion over five years to improving their care, according to not-for-profit aged care support services provider Feros Care.

The budget boost means the Government’s 2021-22 investment in aged care will be $25.9 billion, which Feros Care CEO Jennene Buckley says gives older Australians more choice about their care in the years it matters most.

“This budget boost of $17.7 billion over five years is good news for older Australians and their families, who have been waiting for improvements in aged care for decades,” Ms Buckley said

“Since 1997, we’ve seen 20 major public inquiries into the sector, and finally, we can thank the Morrison Government for delivering a significant boost in this budget.”

The Morrison Government’s budget pledge comes after the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, which determined significant funding boosts are vital to ensure older Australians can continue to receive the high quality of care they deserve.

“We welcome the additional 40,000 home care packages that will be delivered this year, which will help older Australians stay in their own homes longer,” Ms Buckley said.

“The additional payment of $10 per resident, per day is also critical because it will help to provide residential aged care providers the funding boost needed to maintain financial viability and to ensure struggling providers can keep their heads above water caring for our elderly.”

The Government’s five-year plan includes this year establishing an Independent Hospital and Aged Care Pricing Authority, by extending the rule of the existing hospitals pricing authority to include the aged care advisory function.

“This is good news, and something that was recommended by the Royal Commission,” Ms Buckley said.

“An independent pricing authority’s role should be to ensure the pricing structures and policies are sufficient and aligned with the aspirations outlined in the Royal Commission’s findings – accountability, compliance, and regulation.

“If funding and pricing is insufficient, the industry is set up to fail. One of the first tasks of an authority should be determining a source of truth – the true cost of operating a high quality, compliant, aged care service that has highly trained, credentialled staff.”

The Government also announced that from 1 July 2022, residential care providers will be required to report and publish care staffing minutes for each facility on the MyAgedCare website. Providers will also be required to report to residents and their families on care delivered.

“The older Australians that receive care should receive the best quality of care possible. These reforms will help to get rid of any bad apples in the industry so no Australians ever experience poor treatment, as heard by the Royal Commission again,” Ms Buckley said.

“After building Feros Care into a successful business over 20 years in a sector that has been widely struggling, we know that this investment from the Government will be a critical to securing lasting reform.“This budget lays a good foundation for the Government to start solving the problems in a beleaguered sector, where more than half (58 per cent) of the aged care providers in this country are financially crippled and operating at a loss.”

Until now, the Australia Government has spent only 1.2 per cent of its gross domestic product (GDP) on aged care, which is less than half of the OECD average spend of 2.5 per cent.

“There is still room for improvement, with urgent legislation change needed to update the outdated 1997 Aged Care Act,” Ms Buckley said.

“And while an additional $17.7 billion over five years is a good start, our ageing population means we need to ensure Government funding continues increasing significantly and sustainably in the coming years.”

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