14,000 Additiotnal Packages
Aged care was supposed to be a big winner in the Budget, but this promise has fallen flat on its face.
The Budget only announced an additional 14,000 Home Care packages over the next four years. Whilst this is a welcome move, the extra packages are a drop in the ocean compared to the 104,000 people waiting for home care. The new home care packages will cost around $1.6 billion to deliver but it is still cheaper than subsidising residential care and older Australians overwhelmingly want to stay at home.
More worrying is that the Government has not defined a plan to address this home care crisis.
On the other side of the aged care coin, the Government has committed funding for 13,500 residential places in 2018-19.
Interestingly, the funding streams for home and residential care will be combined in July to make it more responsive to demand. However, this may also make it difficult to compare aged care funding over time and identify increases or decreases.
The good news is that the Budget committed $82 million to providing mental health services to people in nursing homes. The program will be co-ordinated by local Primary Health Networks and will help address the prevalence of depression and loneliness amongst residents.
Sadly, there was no proposal to address the problems with aged care audit methods and unsafe staffing levels, which are crucial to improving quality of care.