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Aged care

Sam Tayeh - Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Aged care has been strictly rationed for years. In 2011, the Federal Government promulgated a “Living longer, living better” policy that promised to make a huge difference.

Unfortunately, some people believed it.

The first problem is that the policy deliberately refused any notion of entitlement.  That automatically means that not everyone who needs help will get it.  In 2012, about 24,000 applications were received for about 2,000 available aged care support packages.  That kind of rationing was one of the things that aged care providers asked to have ended and to have an automatic entitlement instead.  But the government refused.  So, we know, up front, that rationing will still occur.  You may be old and you may need support but if all the support packages have been taken, you will miss out.

Secondly, most of the increase in funding was promised for 2015/16 which was outside of the Forward Estimates period and so the Government didn’t need to show where the money was coming from.  Now we know that there will be no money unless it is cut from somewhere else.

A good example of what that might mean was the proposal by the Federal Government earlier in 2013 to pay a “bonus” to aged care workers and nurses to boost their wages and salaries. Unfortunately, the money was largely taken out of the funds intended to provide aged care support, i.e. workers would get paid more but fewer people would get funding for their support needs. The government also attached numerous conditions to the funding that would have driven many small rural aged care providers bankrupt, especially how much aged care agencies were to also pay staff.  As a result, many rural services are not applying for the funding so the Government basically saves money by not having to spend as much on providing support to old people or paying increased wages to aged care support staff. It’s a winner all round for Government but it sounded great.

The bottom line is that the Federal budget is in serious trouble and unless it can save money somewhere, it will not have the funds to meet the promises of the “Living longer, living better” policy.

And, harking back to our article on disabilities, nobody over the age of 65, no matter how needy will receive support from the NDIS.  So, if you’re going to have a stroke or fall over and become disabled, please do it before you turn 65. Without the NDIS and with only an overstretched aged care support budget, things look fairly grim for our elderly citizens – despite their lifetime of work contributing to and building the society we now enjoy.

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