May 12, 2021
The RACP welcomes the news that the Australian Government will be providing an additional $17.7 billion to aged care over 5 years, however is concerned that this may not be enough to address the recommendations of the Royal Commission.
The Royal Commission identified a $9.8 billion1 annual shortfall left by successive Governments, and other experts including the Grattan Institute have concluded based on this that ‘fixing’ aged care requires an additional $10 billion a year.
The $17.7b is a positive start – but it equates to an average of an additional $3.4 billion per year. The College is concerned this is not enough to address the almost $10 billion a year needed to properly fix the system.
RACP spokesperson and President of the Australian and New Zealand Society for Geriatric Medicine, Dr John Maddison says the $6.5 billion investment in Home Care Packages is a positive move, but that more funding across the board may be required to achieve the big picture reform that the aged care system needs.
To achieve any realistic change, significant structural re-alignment of state and federal responsibilities are essential in the face of this shortfall.
“The additional funding in the budget represents a much-needed boost to aged care. Whether it will be enough to completely address the recommendations of the Royal Commission is unclear.
“The fact is, the Royal Commission identified a $9.8b annual shortfall existing in aged care. Now we’re looking at approximately an average of $3.4b additional per year, for five years.
“Once you take out the $6.5 billion for Home Care Packages, it may not leave enough to address the issues in residential aged care which are significant.
“It’s a good start but it’s unlikely this is going to be enough to meet the current annual shortfall and address the Royal Commission’s 148 recommendations.
“We’ll be looking closely at the Government’s formal response to the Royal Commission’s recommendations – which is due at the end of May.
“Too many older Australians are not getting the support they need to experience a decent quality of life. While the focus on home care is overdue, we need systematic change to aged care.
“There is a fundamental need for a higher degree of integration between the health services provided through hospitals and ambulatory care settings with Commonwealth and State funded bodies.
“Our entire healthcare system needs to shift to more easily integrate into aged care so that people living in aged care residences can access healthcare services and lead a better quality of life.”
1https://theconversation.com/next-months-federal-budget-is-the-time-to-stop-talking-about-aged-care-and-start-fixing-it-158951 See also p13 of Volume 1 of Royal Commission Final Report.