Aged care didn’t receive much attention in Tuesday night’s Federal Budget, despite the shadow of the Royal Commission into Aged Care hanging over the Government and the increasing media scrutiny on waiting times for Home Care Packages (HCP’s).
The main aged care measures include:
- $320 million for residential aged care (already allocated)
- $282.4 million for 10,000 HCPs (allocated in February)
- $5.9 billion for the Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSOP) (2019-21)
- $60 million for residential care infrastructure (already allocated)
- $84 million for carer respite
In his speech, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said that in some cases aged care services “have badly let Australians down”.
He was proud that they have not ‘blown the budget’ to meet the costs of these measures.
“We achieve this without new taxes and without raiding retirees’ hard-earned savings.”
Need for a sustainable system
The fact is we will need to look at both what the government – and we the consumer – contribute if we want to guarantee quality care for our mums and dads (and ourselves in the future).
Aged care accountants Stewart Brown’s latest Aged Care Financial Performance Survey revealed that 42 per cent of residential facilities are currently losing money.
The $5.9 billion for the CHSP, which offers basic home support services such as domestic assistance, cleaning and home maintenance, sounds good – until you realise that it is spread across over 850,000 people who use the programme.
That works out at $3,500 a year per person – not much in the scheme of things.
And while the funding for our hard-working carers is very welcome, there was no relief for families on the home care queue.
As we have covered previously, there are now over 128,000 older Australians waiting to be approved for an HCP – waiting times for the lowest Level 1 are now three to six months.
For the higher-level 2, 3 and 4 packages, waiting times are now over 12 months.
The Department of Health says it would take between $2 billion and $2.5 billion a year to clear the waiting list.
But that’s just the start. We need to re-think the way aged care is provided – and what we are prepared to spend for a quality system – to ensure we can meet the needs of all Australians, not just in terms of services, but also their health and well being.
The Royal Commission has given us the opportunity to have this discussion – now it’s up to us to have it.