THE Federal Government is spending this week, handing out more and welcome dollars for aged care services which support older Australians staying at home.
Minister for Aged Care, Ken Wyatt AM, announced today adding $8m, to the already provided $65m through the Commonwealth Home Support Program, to meal providers to support older people in their homes.
"Home delivery services, including Meals On Wheels are legendary," the Minister said.
"When a volunteer visits the home of an older Australian, they do more than provide a healthy meal.
"The visit is also an opportunity to have a friendly chat and to check on that person's wellbeing.
"We need to maintain and grow this type of service into the future.
"I have listened to the aged care sector and we all agree it's important that a reliable, quality meal service for older Australians will help ensure they stay strong and connected to their community."
Yesterday the Federal Government also announced extra high need home care packages and more money as part of its revamp of My Aged Care.
The government has added 6,000 high-care-needs level 1, 2, 3 and 4 home care packages to support more older Australians wanting to remain living in their homes.
It is also investing $20m in the My Aged Care information system to improve public access, especially for rural, regional and remote clients.
It is also making available information from the new national home care priority queue to consumers.
Another announcement has been the government's response to the Legislated Review of Aged Care 2017, led by David Tune AO, PSM.
The review of the Living Longer Living Better package included 38 recommendations for future aged care provision.
Minister Wyatt advised his department will consider these recommendations, but already two have been rejected -
- Including the full value of the owner's home in the means test for residential care.
- Removing the annual and lifetime caps on means-tested fees.
Aged Care and Community Services Australia CEO Pat Sparrow isn't excited by some of the elements of yesterday's Tune review announcement.
"It was disappointing to see the government rule out any changes to the annual and lifetime caps, as well as including the full value of the owner's home in the means test for residential aged care," Ms Sparrow said.
"By ruling out these two financing options, the Government is limiting its own ability, as well as that of providers, to respond to the changing needs of Australia's rapidly ageing population.
"With around 1.3 million older Australians receiving some form of aged care (in 2015-16) and that number set to grow Australia needs to have a sustainable, flexible and quality aged care system."
The government's announcement also included notice that as the 38 recommendations are worked through, its primary considerations will be to -
- ensure improved aged care services to allow older Australians to continue living in regional, rural and remote areas; and
- provide support to the burgeoning aged care sector and the demand it will place on Australia's workforce, by putting in place a detailed aged care skilled workforce strategy which will be developed by the Productivity Commission.
Minister Wyatt confirmed the government has allocated $18.6 billion for aged care in 2017-18, which is the first part of its $100 billion investment in aged care support planned for the next five years.