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How Will Aged Care Be Affected by the 2015 Federal Budget?

How Will Aged Care Be Affected by the 2015 Federal Budget?
How Will Aged Care Be Affected by the 2015 Budget?

18 June 2015

Aged Care Reviews

The 2015 Federal Budget in Australia contains a number of changes that will affect aged care facilities, and the elderly. This ranges from things like an increase in aged and ageing care services, alterations in how funding is allocated to individuals and aged care providers, and a reduction in red tape within the industry. How will these changes affect any senior citizens in your family and circle of friends?

Since Australians are living longer lives, and remaining healthy for longer, they need to have control over their own care. The new system that the government plans to put in place, is meant to be more flexible, in response to the needs of the aged and ageing. It is being pitched as giving more power to the very senior citizens who the system is designed to help. This seems to be a wonderful approach, but there is still some time to come before any changes are seen.

Changes within the aged care industry are designed to not only support the health, both mental and physical, of the elderly – but improve their overall satisfaction of lifestyle. There is much more to aged care than simply providing the basic necessities. The new budget displays an important shift in how support is given to older citizens of Australia.

Previously, the elderly needed to apply for home care packages via the Aged Care Approval Round. Starting after 2015, this will no longer be the case. In addition, Home Care Packages will be combined with the Home Support Programme, starting in July 2018. This sort of streamlined process is intended to make matters simpler for everyone involved, while making the system more adaptive to the needs of citizens.

In addition to making the system more manageable, the actual quality of aged care is set to be increased. This will be driven by more competition between providers, as the elderly will be able to select who they would like to receive care from. Some might call this a deregulation of the industry, in many ways. Only after the changes have been put in place, will it be clear just how this will affect the aged.

It is a growing trend for the elderly to seek out in-home care, so they can remain in their own homes for as long as possible. The industry has been changing to meet these desires. An increase in short-term restorative care will be given, for those who wish to age-in-place for as long as possible.

Below is a list of the key changes in the new budget, which relate to the aged care sector:

  • $16 billion or more will be spent on aged and ageing care services, between 2015 and 2016.
  • Rather than being given to providers, Home Care Packages will be allocated to the individual.
  • Over 80,000 seniors will be able to choose who to receive health care through, starting in February, 2017.
  • These changes are intended to increase the quality of care, innovation in the industry, and competition between providers. It is also meant to reduce the amount of red tape involved.
  • Starting July, 2018, the Government has plans to start a program for in-home single care, which should give improved services to over 850,000 elderly citizens every year.
  • Aged care complaints will be handled independently by the Aged Care Commissioner.
  • There will be 2,000 extra restorative care positions for short-term help, dedicated to the elderly who want to “age-in-place”, by remaining at home.
  • The Aged Care Service Improvement and Healthy Ageing Grants Fund will be changed, becoming the Dementia and Aged Care Services Fund. It will support the elderly who live with dementia, or have other diverse needs.
  • Residents in aged care facilities who have severe behaviours, will be assisted by the Severe Behaviour Response Teams.
  • Government initiatives for the aged care workforce will be scrutinised. Spending will be refocused via the Aged Care Workforce Development Fund, with an aim at making the workforce more capable. This is intended to help it meet needs of elderly care, which is growing in complexity.

If you are trying to decide how to best care for an ageing relative, it is vital to take note of the changes that the 2015 Federal Budget will bring.

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