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Tuesday, 23 April 1985
Page: 1410

(Question No. 4)

Senator Walters asked the Minister for Community Services, upon notice, on 21 February 1985:

(1) What planning is there for day-care facilities for the aged in Hobart.

(2) Is funding available for day-care if applied for by voluntary agencies.

(3) What planning is there for transporting elderly patients to and from day centres.

(4) Has the Government considered the need for an emergency housekeeper service which can be called upon in the event of illness by aged couples living at home and without relatives.

(5) Is funding available for a home-carer (home-help) service providing 1 or 2 hours a week domestic help to incapacitated elderly persons living alone; if not, why not.

(6) Why does Tasmania require a nursing assessment officer when it already has three geriatric assessment teams in the State, one for each region, comprising a sister, an occupational therapist and a social worker.

Senator Grimes —The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows:

(1) and (2) The Commonwealth may provide funding for day centres which operate in conjunction with nursing home accommodation approved under the Nursing Homes Assistance Act as well as capital funding for day centres incorporated within facilities approved under the Aged or Disabled Persons Homes and Hostels Acts. However, since the transfer of the Community Health Program to State Governments, recurrent assistance for day centres other than those associated with deficit financed nursing homes, is a matter for the States to determine.

Capital grants by the Commonwealth for the establishment of day centres must now be provided on the understanding that the recurrent costs are met by either the organisation receiving the grant or the State Government.

All applications for funding of day care facilities submitted by voluntary agencies are assessed and given a priority on the basis of demonstrated need and within the funding available under the programs administered by the Commonwealth.

There are no special arrangements for planning for day centres in Hobart. Further, there are at present no applications for capital funding in respect of the establishment of day centre facilities for the aged in Hobart held by my department.

(3) Many voluntary organisations provide transport facilities for elderly people to attend, among other activities, day centres.

Under the new Home and Community Care (HACC) Program, a comprehensive range of integrated home and community care services is proposed. In addition to the expansion of existing services in new areas, consideration will be given to the funding of such services as personal care, community based respite care, linen/laundry services and transport services.

(4) The possibility of assisting emergency housekeeper services is also under consideration as a possible service type within the HACC Program. However, Commonwealth consideration of this type of service is not designed to duplicate the Tasmanian Domiciliary Assistance Service Act administered by the State Government which, though not specifically geared to the elderly or the disabled does provide a homemaker service for families in crisis.

(5) Under the States Grants (Home Care) Act, the Commonwealth funds jointly with the State Government the Tasmanian Home Care Service which operates branches throughout Tasmania. This service provides domestic help and other assistance as required to elderly people living in their own homes. At present any guidelines on hours of service et cetera are fixed by State Governments.

Commonwealth expenditure on this service in Tasmania in 1983-84 was $630,000.

(6) The functions of geriatric assessment teams are to assess the needs of individuals and to assist in matching those needs with the services available. They therefore have an important role in assessing people for nursing home admission. The use of assessment teams is relatively new in Australia however, and their role is still evolving. Consequently admissions continue to be subject to approval by a Commonwealth Medical Officer who uses the nurse assessment officer to assist him in considering applications from people not seen by the assessment teams. The nursing assessment officer also assists in the assessment of applications for Domiciliary Nursing Care Benefits and reviews the condition of people in respect of whom the benefit is paid. The nurse liaises with assessment teams and district nursing services.