Disappointing announcement means no change, no relief for older Australians

ANMF Media Release. 25 November 2019

The Government’s statement today from the Prime Minister and the Ministers for Health, Aged Care and the National Disability Insurance Scheme, in response to the Aged Care Royal Commission Interim Report, is once again a disappointment.

It fails to address the real causes, as described by the Report, of the ‘shocking tale of neglect’ that is the Australian Aged Care Sector, the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) said today.

ANMF Federal Secretary Annie Butler said: “The Government’s announcement promises pockets of money for three areas identified as requiring immediate action by the Report, increasing Home Care Packages, reducing chemical restraint, and transferring younger people out of residential aged care, but does not provide any clear policy guidance on how taxpayers can be assured that their money will actually be directed to delivering improved care and better quality lives for older Australians requiring support and those living in residential aged care.

“The statement does not explain how the Government will ensure taxpayers that an additional $496.3 million will guarantee that 10,000 additional Australians will receive a home care package to suit their assessed needs in a timely fashion rather than going into increased administration fees for providers or into the increasing pool of unspent funds. And the statement does not explain how an additional $10 million to increase dementia training and support for aged care workers and health sector staff will guarantee that there will be enough appropriately qualified staff available in residential aged care facilities to ensure the effective implementation of non-pharmacological strategies and interventions for caring for people with dementia.

“The statement does not explain how an additional $4.7 million will be directed to building additional accommodation suitable for younger people currently living in residential aged care but instead suggests establishing a taskforce and, astonishingly, undertaking a ‘detailed analysis’ of younger people living in aged care. The Government, despite having called a Royal Commission, which has just provided the analysis on the need to transfer younger people out of residential aged care, is calling for another report.

“The Royal Commission’s Report has laid out the extent of the problems in aged care and the work that will need to be done. The reform that is needed will require additional funding, which will have to be underpinned by informed policy guidance and accountability measures. However, today’s announcement is little more than a politically expedient attempt to try and convince Australians that the Government is ‘doing something’ about aged care. In fact, it is simply more of the same – throwing taxpayers’ money in a number of directions in the hope that the problem will disappear.

“Surely, the Royal Commission’s Report has made abundantly clear Australians’ right to expect safe quality care for older Australians and the Government’s responsibility to provide it by using their tax dollars to ensure the best outcome. The ANMF is calling on all politicians – we need to do much better than this.”

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