Because we care delivers $130 million for aged care

The Because we care campaign has achieved a major win, with the Rudd Government allocating $130 million to initiatives that will improve the skill level of aged care nurses and recognise the professionalism of AiNs through a national licensing system.

Nurses were prominent in this year’s Federal Budget with the Rudd Government allocating $130 million for nursing initiatives in aged care and a further $523 million for extra practice nurses as it increased its health spending by another $2.2 billion. This brings the increase in health spending this year to more than $7 billion.

Of the money allocated to aged care nursing, $60 million will become available from 1 July for a raft of education initiatives.

50,000 aged care workers will be eligible for the incentives to improve their skills:

  • Unqualified carers will be eligible for $1,000 to attain a Certificate III or IV in nursing;
  • Certificate III holders will be eligible for $2,500 to upgrade to an EN;
  • ENs will be eligible for $5,000 to upgrade to an RN.

The grants will be dependent on an employee remaining in the aged care sector for two years if they are an RN or EN, or for one year for a Certificate III worker.

An extra $20 million has been allocated for an increase in nursing scholar-ships. There will be 600 additional scholarships for ENs and another 300 for RNs.

There is also another $500,000 to conduct a research study on staffing levels, skill mix and resident care needs in Australian residential aged care facilities.

ANF Secretary Ged Kearney said she was pleased with the Government’s response to our Because we care campaign.

‘The $132 million aged care workforce package announced by the Treasurer in Budget 2010 ensures nurses will remain front and centre in the delivery of aged care in Australia.

‘We are thrilled with the $60 million education incentive for aged care nurses. This will lead to thousands of nurses and Assistants in Nursing upgrading their skills, helping them to stay working in the aged care sector and ensuring high quality care is delivered.

‘This is vital given the number of nurses in aged care actually declined by 4,000 bet-ween 2003 to 2007, while the number of residents increased by 15,000 in that time.

‘The introduction of a national licensing system for AiNs and personal care workers will recognise their professionalism while ensuring high standards of care, safety and protection for residents,’ said Ged.

A new aged care Nurse Practitioner project

An innovative scheme to use Nurse Practitioners in aged care was also announced in the budget. $18.7 million will become available from 1 July to fund 25 Nurse Practitioners covering 100 nursing homes.

‘This will further the career pathway for nurses in aged care and greatly benefit residents in those homes,’ said Ged Kearney.

Other funding initiatives in aged care announced in the Budget are:

  • The Government will invest $98.6 million over five years to improve access to primary health care for older Australians. The funding provides financial incentives to GPs to provide more services to aged care homes. The Government expects an additional 295,000 GP and primary health-care services to older Australians over the next four years.
  • The Government will provide a further $300 million in loans to support the development of an extra 2,500 aged care places.
  • The Government will provide up to $280 million to the State Governments to meet the cost of older Australians who are waiting in public hospitals for suitable aged care places.