Sunday, 11 September 2016 11:58

Government engagement welcome but care concerns remain

UnitingCare Australia says the Federal Government’s offer to discuss how it achieves aged care funding cuts is welcome and demonstrates a willingness to engage with the sector to find ways to minimise the impact of the cuts from residential aged care services on care of vulnerable older people.

“However, at the same time, the Government has made it clear that it is still seeking to cut more than $2 billion from aged care services,” Chair of the UnitingCare Aged Care Network, Steve Teulan, said today.  

“It is the quantum of these cuts which will compromise the quality of care and reduce future access to care for vulnerable older Australians. The impact of the cuts will be felt by residents across all residential aged care services, with a dramatic impact on many rural and remote aged care services.

“We call on the Government to work collaboratively with the sector on a full review of funding arrangements, including an assessment of funding required to meet the care needs of people being supported in residential aged care services, and to put the funding cuts on hold while the review is carried out.

“We recognise the Government’s need to manage the growth of expenditure on aged care, but any sustainable funding model must consider the care needs of growing numbers of older people requiring residential aged care,” Mr Teulan said.

Mr Teulan was responding to reports that the Federal Minister for Health, the Hon Sussan Ley, had offered to engage with the aged care sector in a review of aged care funding and savings options. In making the offer, the Minister stated *“However, let me be very clear on this point, our conversation has to be on the basis that the same quantum of savings are delivered over the forward estimates.”

The Federal Government had previously announced $2 billion in cuts to the Complex Health Care domain of the Aged Care Funding Instrument (ACFI), the tool used to fund residential aged care.

The UnitingCare Aged Care Network commissioned modelling that indicated the cuts, on average, would reduce the funding to care for aged care residents by $6,650 per resident, per year. For residents with very complex health care needs, such as dementia, arthritis, heart disease, lung disease, incontinence and mobility issues, the cuts could extend to approximately $18,000 a year.

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*Health Minister Sussan Ley at ACSA Conference, Hobart 7 September 2016