Royal Commission Interim Report response a missed opportunity

Leading Age Services Australia (LASA) has acknowledged the Prime Minister’s announcement of more than $500 million for aged care in the wake of the Royal Commission’s Interim Report.

 

However LASA says more is needed to support older Australians.

 

Prime Minister Scott Morrison yesterday announced $537 million funding package in response to Interim Report.

 

It includes:

  • almost $500 million for an additional 10,000 home care packages to be rolled out from 1 December this year
  • $25.5 million to improve medication management programs and reduce the use of medication as a chemical restraint
  • $10 million for additional dementia training and support for aged care workers and providers; and
  • Almost $5 million to help meet new targets to remove younger people with disabilities from residential aged care.

 

The Government will also unify the Home Care and Commonwealth Home Support Programs and create a single assessment workforce and a single network of assessment organisation that are able to undertake aged care eligibility assessments.

 

LASA CEO Sean Rooney commended the commitment but said it was critical not to neglect the severe financial pressures threatening the quality and viability of many residential care services.

 

“The extra 10,000 high level home care packages will be welcome news for some but with 120,000 people currently on the queue, many others will be left disappointed in the lead up to Christmas.

 

“The Government also needs to set out a plan to bring the home care package wait time down to less than 90 days rather than just announcing another one-off injection of new packages.

 

“The support for additional packages is a step in the right direction but there appears to have been no movement at all on the urgent risks facing residential care.

 

“We have told the Government that residential care services need $1.3 billion in additional operational funding right now to avoid the risk of unplanned closures, service failures and job losses.

 

“We believe up to 50,000 older Australians at sites across the country are at risk because of the financial situation that many providers are facing.”

 Analysis by LASA shows those residents at risk are cared for by 197 providers under financial distress, with 142 of these providers in metropolitan areas, 44 in the regions and 11 in both.

 

“Financial pressures are no doubt a significant factor in the looming closure of three regional aged care facilities in New South Wales and Victoria,” Mr Rooney said.

 

“Older Australians in residential care must have certainty while the Royal Commission continues its important work.

 

“LASA calls on the Government to follow up its announcement with immediate funding relief for the residential care sector.

 

“Older Australians deserve nothing less.”

 

 

“The neglect that we have found in this Royal Commission, to date, is far from the best that can be done. Rather, it is a sad and shocking system that diminishes Australia as a nation.” – Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.

 

26 November 2019.