Is there ‘new money’ in the Budget for home care or not?

It’s a question we’ve been asked this week as Labor and the Coalition continue to argue over the $5 billion in funding announced in the recent Federal Budget. 

The Opposition has labelled the figure a “hoax”, saying that the money has been stripped from residential aged care. 

We asked Council on the Ageing Australia (COTA) CEO Ian Yates to separate the facts from the fiction for us. 

He says the good news is that the $1.6 billion for the extra 14,000 Level 3 and 4 Home Care Packages (HCPs) announced is real. 

The money for this has come from a shortfall in spending in residential aged care because of a drop in occupancy levels. This makes sense – fewer people are going into aged care because more are using home care packages to stay at home longer. 

Show me the money 

According to Mr Yates, these savings should have been sent back to the Government’s coffers, but COTA lobbied the Government to put the funding back into spending. 

In another plus, the budgets for residential care and home care are also being merged from 1 July –meaning any shortfall in residential funding will be able to be diverted to home care. 

Under these new arrangements, home care packages will jump from 87,000 now to 151,000 in 2021/22 including another 34,000 higher-level three and four packages. 

The bad news is this falls far short of what is needed to meet demand. Most of the 104,000 people currently on the waiting list have been assessed as needing higher-level packages – and there are not enough to go around. 

There is also the biggest problem in aged care – staffing. The latest figures from SEEK show jobs for aged care workers and nurses are the biggest growing market in Australia – and the positions aren’t all being filled. 

New money for home care is welcome – as long as the Government has a plan to boost the workforce too. 

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A special thanks to our contributors

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Journalist

Journalist

Caroline has a wealth of experience writing within the retirement and aged care sector and is a contributing journalist for the Villages.com.au and agedcare101 blog and accompanying newsletters.

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Ian Horswill

Journalist

Ian is a journalist, writer and sub-editor for the aged care sector, working at The DCM Group. He writes for The Weekly Source, agedcare101, villages.com.au and the DCM Institute fortnightly newsletter Friday. Ian is in daily contact with CEOs of retirement living, land lease and the aged care operations and makes a new contact every week. He investigates media releases, LinkedIn and Facebook for a good source for ideas for stories.

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Lauren Broomham

Retirement and Aged Care Journalist

Lauren is a journalist for villages.com.au, agedcare101 and The Donaldson Sisters. Growing up in a big family in small town communities, she has always had a love for the written word, joining her local library at the age of six months. With over eight years' experience in writing and editing, she is a keen follower of news and current affairs with a nose for a good story.

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Jill Donaldson

Physiotherapist

Jill has been practicing as a clinical physiotherapist for 30 years. For the last 13 years she has worked solely in the Aged Care sector in more than 50 metropolitan and regional facilities. Jill has also toured care facilities in the US and Africa and is a passionate advocate for both the residents in aged care and the staff who care for them. She researches and writes for DCM Media.

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Chris Baynes

DCM Media, agedcare101

Chris has been a journalist and publisher in the retirement village and aged care sectors for 11 years. He has visited over 250 retirement villages and 50 aged care facilities both within Australia and internationally. Chris is a regular speaker at industry conferences plus is a frequent radio commentator.

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Annie Donaldson

Nurse and Carer

Annie has a long career in both nursing and the media. She has planned and co-ordinated the medical support from both international TV productions and major stadium events. In recent years she has been a primary family carer plus involved in structured carer support.