Restorative care will bring ‘transformational change’ - Budget 2015

The change to aged care planning ratios to provide up to 2000 more short-term restorative care places will bring transformational change to the lives of older Australians, according to HammondCare Chief Executive, Dr Stephen Judd.

Dr Judd was commenting on aged care measures included in the 2015 Federal Budget delivered by Treasurer Joe Hockey tonight.

Dr Judd also welcomed the opening up of the aged care accreditation process, the streamlining of the aged care complaints process and the rebadging of a key grants program to provide a greater emphasis on dementia.

He said the consolidation of Home Care Packages and the Commonwealth Home Support Program was expected, as was the plan to allocate Home Care Package funds directly to clients by February 2017.

His support for a redesign of aged care workforce programs was conditional on the Government recognising that it would need to continue funding this vital area, and not put training costs back on to providers, while ever caps on recurrent income and over-regulation continued.

The removal of an anomaly that previously allowed rental income from the family home to not be included in the aged care means test ‘made sense’ and was fairer.

New restorative care model

“While we are still awaiting full details, it seems the transformational change as far as we are concerned is the introduction of short-term restorative care places into the aged care planning ratios,” Dr Judd said.

The ratio allows for 125 aged care places per 1000 people over 70 and it is understood the new ratio will be two restorative care, 78 residential care and 45 home care.

“Permanent residential aged care placement is no longer inevitable as a result of gradual functional decline. Instead, these new places provide an opportunity for older Australians to get back to the home of their choice for longer.”

Addressing an important unmet need says Chair of Positive Ageing

Hammond Chair of Positive Ageing, A/Prof Chris Poulos, ‘welcomed with open arms’ the inclusion of restorative care in aged care planning ratios.

“It is vitally important that restorative care has a firm place in our aged care system, so embedding it in planning ratios is a great step forward.

“But what I am particularly excited about is the new form of short-term restorative care, because it addresses an important unmet need.

“Currently the only way older people can access comprehensive restorative care is through the transition care program, but this requires a hospital admission first. This meant that the large number of older people who experience functional decline gradually, and don’t go to hospital, miss out.

“This new program, for which we have advocated over many years, opens up new possibilities for supporting older people to reduce or reverse decline in function allowing them to live in the home of their choice for longer.”

Summary of aged care measures
  • Including short-term restorative care in aged care planning ratios will - over coming years - increase the number of restorative care places by 2000 bringing the total by 2021 (including the Transition Care Program) to 6000.
  • Allocation of Home Care Package funds directly to clients through the My Aged Care Gateway by February 2017. This measure includes $19.9 million over two years in capital funding to enhance the My Aged Care Gateway functionality.
  • A single integrated care at home program will be established by combining the Commonwealth Home Support Program and Home Care Packages from July 2018 after consultation with stakeholders on models and implementation.
  • The aged care complaints process will be ‘streamlined’ by transferring the responsibility for the Aged Care Complaints Scheme from the Secretary of the Department of Social Services to the Aged Care Commissioner from January 1, 2016.
  • A review and redesign of the Aged Care Workforce Fund (ACWF) will, it is claimed, ‘support more targeted training and skilling opportunities for the aged care workforce to better meet the increasing complexity of older people's care needs’. From January 1, 2016, the ACWF will be renamed the Aged Care Workforce Development Fund and will continue to provide $220.9 million over four years.
  • The Government will save $30.7 million by recovering the real cost of residential aged care accreditation from providers. At the same time ‘private market provision’ of accreditation will be explored alongside the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency, as part of a single aged care quality regime across both community and residential care. Aged care homes under 25 places will continue to receive fee exemptions.
  •  The Aged Care Service Improvement and Healthy Ageing Grants (ACSIHAG) are to be rebadged the Dementia and Aged Care Services Fund and will continue to provide $365.8 million over four years.
  • The Severe Behaviour Response Teams are established in the budget as promised, ‘to address the care needs of people with the most severe behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia.’
  • A national gateway to make it easier for carers to find support services will be established and will follow the model of the My Aged Care gateway including a website and 1800 number.
  • The ‘Support Senior Australians — Wound Management Scoping Study’ announced in the last budget will be scrapped saving just $0.3 million.
  • The shingles Zostavax vaccine will be extended to 70-79 year olds.
  • Many aged care charities will have some impact from the capping of meal and entertainment Fringe Benefits Tax entitlements to $5,000 a year per person, saving the Government $295 million. HammondCare supported the Community Council of Australia's approach to this change.

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