Budget to fund massive overhaul of aged care sector
THOUSANDS more aged care places, better mental health treatment for the elderly and a swifter response to "failures" like those uncovered at the Oakden nursing home are promised in a major overhaul of the sector.
Treasurer Scott Morrison has promised elderly Australians will have more choice to "stay home and avoid going into residential aged care" thanks to a $1.6b commitment revealed in the Federal Budget.
It will support 14,000 elderly Australians to receive in-home support.
Standards will also be more closely scrutinised through a $32.6m program to identify risks in nursing homes and "respond more quickly to care failures", Budget papers say.
Another $8.8m will be spent to provide more transparent information on aged care providers.
The changes will be welcome news to the families of South Australians mistreated at the now-closed Oakden Older Persons Mental Health Service.
Inquiries by the state's anti-corruption watchdog and the former Chief Psychiatrist found substandard conditions, systemic abuse and overmedication of elderly patients.
A key complaint of the families of former Oakden residents was that staff were not equipped to deal with the extreme behaviours exhibited by patients with dementia.
The Budget addresses this with an extra $82.5m for mental health services in aged care homes.
Another $20m will enable mental health nurses to identify and support elderly Australians at risk of isolation while still living in the community.
Around the country there are about 100,000 people on waiting lists for in-home aged care support, including 12,000 in SA.
The Budget commitments will enable 14,000 more elderly Australians to receive high level aged care in their own home, 13,500 to enter live-in facilities and 775 to receive short-term, restorative care.
Mr Morrison promised the Coalition would "stand up for older Australians to keep them safe and prevent elder abuse".
His More Choices for a Longer Life Budget package also includes:
$61.7m to make the My Aged Care website easier to use and develop simpler assessment forms for people applying to enter care homes.
$105.7m to offer more aged care packages for indigenous Australians in remote communities.
$253.8m to establish a new Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission from January 1 and fund its first four years of operation.
$50m over two years for a Quality Care Fund to improve standards.
$40m to build aged care facilities in rural and remote areas.