May 10, 2021

“It might sound like a lot, but it’s not”: What aged care can expect from the federal government’s May budget

Elderly woman purse

When the royal commission into aged care handed down their findings in March, it was clear that an increase in public funding into the sector was necessary. 

Following this, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that a big part of the government’s response to the royal commission would be within the upcoming budget, which is being delivered on May 11. 

In April, The Sun-Herald reported that over four years, the government will promise at least $10 billion in funding as part of the upcoming May budget. 

They also reported that one of the key findings from the commission’s final report would be implemented. As part of the budget, the ability for people who wish to stay at home and receive care instead of moving into a residential facility would be focused on. 

At the time, industry experts warned that $10 billion may only be a quarter of enough required to meet the royal commission’s recommendations. 

Speaking to The New Daily, Grattan Institute Health Program Director Stephen Duckett said that the new budget represents a “tremendous opportunity”. 

The Grattan Institute estimates that at least $7 billion per year would be required to bring the sector up to quality standards, and a new Age Care Act would be required to ensure aged care can be tailored to meet the needs of individuals. 

The royal commission estimated that over the past 20 years, Australian governments have slashed the annual aged care budget by $9.8 billion. 

Now, new reports this week state that the federal government is expected to inject $18 billion over four years, to make the improvements that are necessary to the sector. 

He went on to say that he understands the importance of improving “quality control and delivery issues in residential aged care” and that the government had already “made it clear that a substantive response to the royal commission” would be presented as part of the upcoming budget. 

While an $18 billion increase is “serious money”, according to Council on the Ageing Chief Executive Ian Yates, extra cash is not the be all and end all.

“You could have a lot more money than $18 billion and waste it if you pour it into the current system,” he told The Financial Review.

Last month, O’Neil tweeted that the $10 billion funding increase that was leaked at the time marked a “very sad day for older Australians” saying that the amount was not enough to fix the sector.

“$10b over four years for Aged Care might sound like a lot, but it’s not. The existing budget is $100b – and that’s a system that has led to the neglect of older Australians and workers. If this is the heart of the RC response, it’s a very sad day for older Australians.”

Whether the increased amount of $18 billion over four years will be deemed as enough, or something more akin to a band-aid solution in the short term, remains to be seen. 

What do you think about the federal government’s proposed budget of $18 billion over 4 years, in response to the aged care royal commission? Tell us in the comments. 

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  1. Morrison is out and about doing what he always does – spin doctor smoke and mirrors. Of the $450m previously announced most of it yet again went to the government functions. If successive governments have reduced funding by $9.8bn – an extra $10bn doesn’t even make that up. Be of no doubt the $10bn talked about includes existing forward estimates and previous announcements. There is no point just announcing $ without the vision and plan. As always Government will want more and more in return and have already substantially increased reporting requirements – unfunded of course. Two things have risen since the RC – shifts have become even harder to fill – and family members seem to think they can abuse aged care employees with impunity. As has been made clear for years – money is important but funding without a clear vision and plan is irresponsible.

  2. Sadly this amount of money will do very little to ease the the aged care crisis
    Firstly there needs to be consideration on HOW will our society provide enough Care staff to sustain older peoples needs to enable our ageing community to remain in their homes.
    In rural areas Wait time for assessments for Aged care packages has blown out of all proportion and then wait time to be granted same is yet another possible 12 months, in the mean time CHSP services cannot sustain needs associated with lack of Care staff.
    Our Ageing population has become so disadvantaged, I have been very saddened to see the transition from Public Sector to Private Aged Care over many years, the care standard has lowered, staff are less qualified leaving our industry in turmoil
    I have worked in health for more than 50 years, with many years in Aged Care, fortunately within a facility attached to a public hospital. Give me this option over Privately owned any day

  3. For profit healthcare in a nutshell
    1. Maximize profit for your share holders as soon as possible.
    2. Select and employ managers who will drive this (your main) agenda
    2. Glamourous advertising campaigns and press releases to attract your residents and overhype the quality of care you provide. Include lots of lovely, sentimental pictures about how much you care (when you don’t)
    3.Provide the barest minimum of staff to provide care. Lack of staff raises risk of dehydration, malnutrition, falls and avoidable infection and results in poor outcomes (all proven by decades of research). You know this, but ignore it.
    4. Provide only the barest mandatory training for these staff.
    5.Shame, belittle and ignore your exhausted staff when they bring areas of concern to your attention for action. Write clauses into their contracts which will all but silence them so that they are afraid to speak out for fear of loosing their job.
    6. Have a plan for ‘damage limitation’ ready for when thing go wrong (which you know they will because you are not employing enough suitably qualified staff to do the job).
    7. Ensure all your staff smile and can only make ‘positive’ statements to relatives so that relatives, although they suspect care is not good, will remain bamboozled and confused.
    8. Apply lashings of cheap sentimentality when your clients die to keep up the facade that you care (when you don’t).
    9. Ration products (and staff of course)to maximize your profit.
    10 Finally, remember to come up with the wrong remedies when asked to changed. Suggest an app or tech fix (which) extracts even more cash from caring activities). This ‘looks like’ your serious about improving care but you really are not about that at all.
    11 All you are doing is ‘following the money’
    12 Finally, when a community has enough of you or you have extracted as much cash as possible from the tax payer and relatives, you evict the residents, close the business and start up afresh in another location. Then you start all over again. Yes, private healthcare is a fantastic ‘investment vehicle’ and that is all it is.

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