The Morrison Government will invest an additional $1 billion in funding to help older Australians live at home for longer.
Another 10,000 home care packages - at a cost of more than $850 million - will be released as the Government continues to prioritise the needs of older and vulnerable Australians.
It adds to the Morrison Government’s record investment in aged care, from $13.3 billion in 2012-13 to $21.3 billion in 2019-20.
While the population of those aged 70 and over has jumped by 28 per cent since 2012, home care packages have increased by over 200 per cent with funding tripling - or more than 10 times the growth in population of older Australians.
Estimated funding for aged care will grow to more than $27 billion in 2023-24 – or an average $1.1 billion of extra support for senior Australians each year over the forward estimates.
The latest additional investment means almost 50,000 packages, at a cost of $3.3 billion, have been funded since the Royal Commission’s Interim Report.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said it was important older Australians received the care they needed.
“The health and wellbeing of older Australians is an absolute priority,” the Prime Minister said.
“By providing more support to people at home, we are ensuring that Australians, as they age, have greater choices and their families have greater choices.
“Our Government has continued to increase funding in aged care every year by more than $1 billion, adding thousands of extra home care packages at every opportunity.
“We will continue to address the many challenges there are in aged care, not only by boosting funding but also providing better access to health services to improve physical and mental wellbeing for older Australians.
“At every opportunity for the last three years, the Government has tripled the number of home care packages and in addition to Budget announcements, we have provided 10,000 additional home care packages at MYEFO every year for the past three years. This commitment continues.”
Health Minister Greg Hunt said the new packages are in addition to a $1.6 billion investment for more than 23,000 packages announced in the 2020–21 Budget.
It will increase the number of Australians receiving in-home care support to approximately 195,600 by 30 June 2021 – more than three times as many as when the Coalition formed Government.
“The latest investment underlines our commitment to help older Australians live at home for longer,” Minister Hunt said.
“It’s an important measure that can be instrumental to overall health and wellbeing and offer reassurance to families that their loved one is receiving appropriate care.”
The Government continues to build on the reform process for the delivery of care in the home as proposed by the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.
Funding also includes:
- an additional $57.8 million for aged care under the National Partnership on COVID-19 Response;
- $63.3 million to support increased access to allied health services and improved mental health care supports for people in residential aged care, which includes:
- $35.5 million to provide access to Medicare subsidised individual psychological services under the Better Access to Psychiatrists, Psychologists and General Practitioners through the MBS (Better Access) initiative until 30 June 2022 and to evaluate Better Access.
- $12.1 million for additional individual allied health sessions under Medicare chronic disease management plans.
- $15.7 million for allied health group services for residents living in facilities affected by COVID-19 outbreaks.
The expansion of the eligibility requirements for the Better Access to Psychiatrists, Psychologists and General Practitioners is ensuring people living in residential aged care can access suitable mental health support.
This will help all aged care residents access the Better Access initiative in the same way as people living in the community.
Psychological services will be provided by eligible general practitioners, psychologists, social workers or occupational therapists in accordance with a mental health treatment plan developed in consultation with the patient’s general practitioner or psychiatrist.
Financial disincentives for providers to offer services for those living in residential aged care will be removed.
The extension of the National Partnership on COVID-19 Response will bolster protection measures, including expert training and support in infection prevention and control for all states and territories.
Additionally, the Government is providing $8.2 million to extend the Victorian Aged Care Response Centre until 30 June 2021 to ensure the dedicated scalable support remains in place to rapidly respond to the pandemic and coordinate the Victorian response to outbreaks in aged care.
Another $11.1 million over five years will help fast-track the implementation of the Serious Incident Response Scheme (SIRS) to protect senior Australians from abuse and neglect. It takes the total investment in the program to $67.2 million.
The SIRS will drive improvements in quality and safety at the individual service and broader system level, by requiring residential aged care providers to manage all incidents, with a focus on the safety and wellbeing of consumers and reducing preventable incidents from reoccurring.
Minister Colbeck said the latest investment underlines the commitment of the Australian Government as it continues to implement recommendations from the Royal Commission’s Special Report on COVID-19, released in October 2020.
“We are building on more than $1.7 billion in support measures implemented as part of the Morrison Government’s response to the impact of COVID-19 in aged care,” Minister Colbeck said.
“The virus has presented the greatest challenge the sector has ever faced, but the Australian Government is moving beyond responding to the pandemic to drive the biggest transformation of aged care in our nation’s history.”