Aged care players praise the budget

Elderly care providers hailed this week’s federal budget for its commitment to implementing the royal commission’s reforms, but pointed to remaining funding and workforce gaps.

Labor’s first budget in nine years – presented by Treasurer Jim Chalmers on Tuesday evening – included an additional $3.9 billion for the aged care sector. And even though no dollars were earmarked for a salary increase, the government only reiterated the funding once End of the Fair Work Commission case.

Key measures include $2.5 billion to pay registered nurses and minutes of care at aged care facilities, $810 million for residential and home care providers for Covid-related costs and $312 million for ICT improvements (find out more here).

Leading care provider organization Aged and Community Care Providers Association hailed the budget investment and recognition that decades of underfunding will take time to correct.

ACCPA chief executive Tom Symondson said the $3.9 billion package in the budget represents an important step in fixing the aged care system and realizing the vision set out by the commission. royal.

“We also look forward to new investments in the months ahead as the government delivers on its commitment to fund the results of the Fair Work Commission’s value of work case and the inaugural recommendations of the Independent Labor Authority. health and elderly care pricing, which should take us further. on the road to recognizing the true cost of providing high quality aged care services to older Australians,” said Mr Symondson.

Tom Symondson

However, he pointed to the ongoing pressures facing the aged care sector, including labor shortages, the pandemic and the legacy of decades of underfunding.

“And the pressure is not just financial – we have welcomed the funding of additional minutes of care, but it is undeniable that it forces us to recruit thousands of additional staff in the context of record unemployment and a global shortage of nurses.

“To give older Australians the care they deserve, government and providers must work together to address current funding and workforce shortages,” said Symondson.

Pledge to raise wages ‘changes the negative narrative’

Peak from Catholic aged care provider Catholic Health Australia has called the additional investment in aged care a down payment on future aged care reforms and election pledges by the Albanian government.

Jason Kara

On the Government’s re-commitment to fully fund the Fair Work Commission’s future compensation decision, CHA Director of Aged Care Jason Kara said: “This changes the negative narrative for the aged care sector. and is the first step to improving the attraction and retention of aged care staff as we begin to recognize their value in their take home pay.

These aged care reforms will be costly and the CHA will closely monitor their impact, he said. “We look forward to seeing real investment in the next budget supported by real collaboration going forward.”

Elderly care, cost of living relief for workers, union says

Annie Butler, Federal Secretary of the Australian Federation of Nurses and Midwives – which represents nurses, midwives and carers – called the significant investment a first step in fixing the struggling aged care sector by supporting staff ratios and other measures to ensure safe, quality care for elderly residents.

Annie Butler

“We commend the government for recognizing the need to prioritize funding for health and aged care in the budget, especially in these difficult economic times,” Ms Butler said.

She also said measures to improve wages and ease the cost of living would benefit workers and help address labor shortages in the elderly care sector.

These measures include government support for raising women’s wages in low-wage sectors, including through the introduction of a legal principle of equal pay to reduce barriers to pay equity claims.

The government is also investing:

  • $4.7 billion over four years to make early childhood education and care more affordable
  • $531.6 million over four years to expand paid parental leave program
  • $350 million over five years to provide up to 20,000 affordable homes under a housing agreement with states and territories
  • reduce the cost of medicines to save around 3.6 million Australians more than $190 million in out-of-pocket costs.

“The government’s plan to raise wages in female-dominated industries, improve gender equity and tackle cost-of-living pressures, will provide a platform to finally begin to reform child care. seniors by recruiting and retaining nurses and workers, so desperately needed in the sector,” Ms Butler said.

“Nurses, midwives and caregivers will also benefit from increased access to childcare subsidies and the extension of paid parental leave to 26 weeks and more affordable housing for these essential workers,” said she declared.

“Financial flesh on bones” of commitments

Leading consumer body, the Council on Aging, called the budget measures a strong commitment to aged care reform. The budget puts “the financial flesh on the bones of the government’s election commitments”, said COTA Australia chief executive Ian Yates.

Ian Yates

“Clearly, a lot is being done and will be done in elder care reform with the nearly $4 billion committed in this budget, with wage increases for elder care still to come. We commend not only Ministers Butler and Wells for their hard work so far, but also the clear commitment of the Prime Minister and Treasurer to making this process of reform a priority,” he said.

However, much more needs to be done to fully implement the royal commission’s recommendations and achieve a world-class aged care system in which all Australians can have confidence, Mr Yates said.

“Ahead of the next budget, COTA will be strongly engaging on issues still under consideration, such as improving services for people with severe disabilities and ensuring that the new home support program really delivers for older people. and their families.”

Missed opportunity to alleviate the “labour crisis”

While pleased to see the federal government deliver on its election promises, seniors’ advocacy group National Seniors Australia said it was disappointed the budget missed an opportunity to help address urgent labor shortages. .

Ian Henschke

National Seniors Australia chief solicitor Ian Henschke hoped to see additional measures to boost labor market participation.

“The $4,000 Work Premium Income Credit announced after the Jobs and Skills Summit was a good first step, but the government needs to follow through and give retirees and employers more certainty. Stopping the increase in the work premium in June 2023 will not do that,” he said.

“The workforce crisis in the care sector could be alleviated by allowing retirees to work, and work more, without being financially penalized. National Seniors Australia wants to work with the government and we believe a stronger incentive is needed,” Mr Henschke said.

“For sectors in desperate need of workers such as health, elderly, disabled and childcare, we need a full income exemption to fill the shortages. A two-year trial is the next step. And that should happen in the May 2023 budget.

Letting retirees work in the care sector without being penalized is a victory for the government, the economy and retirees, he said. “There are always things the government can do to improve people’s lives that won’t cost money. It’s only one.

Next priority must focus on home care, says OPAN

The Older Persons Advocacy Network welcomed the additional measures for residential care for the elderly, but called for support from others to address home care issues.

“We are delighted to see the Australian government not only deliver on its $2.5 billion election promise, but exceed it,” said Craig Gear, CEO of OPAN. “This budget funds significant reforms that are urgently needed to provide better aged care services to older Australians, including 24/7 nursing care, increased care minutes and a better nutrition in care facilities for the elderly.”

Craig Equipment

But they must now be accompanied by measures to address the significant home care issues that often result in older people entering elder care facilities prematurely, he said.

“A flexible and appropriately funded home support program, developed in consultation with older people, is crucial. Interim measures should be put in place to ensure that older people do not fall through the gaps.

Mr. Gear welcomed the commitment to consult with people who will use the home care system as part of a $23 million budget measure to support the implementation of reform.

He also welcomed the additional funding for an Aged Care Complaints Commissioner. “A responsive regulatory system that responds to the concerns and complaints of older adults in a timely and proportionate manner is a key enabler of quality care,” Mr. Gear said.

He also added his support for funding an inspector general for elderly care to “address end-to-end problems in elderly care” and consider “longer-term system improvement” and the continued government commitment to fund higher salaries for aged care staff. .

“Older people have a right to quality care. You only get that with a well-paid, well-trained workforce”

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About Antoine L. Cassell

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