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Big boost to aged care places



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THE HON MARK BUTLER MP Minister for Mental Health and Ageing

MEDIA RELEASE

8 December 2010

BIG BOOST TO AGED CARE PLACES

Australia’s older people will gain 12,272 new aged care places, worth more than $450 million a year, Minister for Mental Health and Ageing Mark Butler announced today.

The new places have been allocated across Australia in the 2009-10 Aged Care Approvals Round.

“Older Australians will benefit from 5,643 new residential aged care places - more than 60 per cent of them high care places,” Mr Butler said.

There will also be 6,629 new community care places for the care of people in their own homes. Of these, 2,408 are community care packages, 2,714 are Extended Aged Care at Home packages and 1,507 are Extended Aged Care at Home Dementia packages.

“This builds on more than a quarter of a million aged care places already allocated across Australia as at 30 June this year,” Mr Butler said.

“In addition, the Gillard Labor Government will provide the sector $147 million in zero-real-interest loans to build 819 places, and more than $41.6 million in capital grants.”

The grants include $4 million towards building a new, 80-bed facility--including 44 beds for older homeless people, in Wamuran near Caboolture in Queensland.

A further $2.4 million is being allocated as Community and Flexible Care Grants to establish or expand community and flexible services in rural and remote areas and for groups with special needs. The grants enable, for example, the purchase of office equipment, vehicles, or funds for staff recruitment, in order to assist services to be set up.

“I’m pleased that several thousand new residential places have been allocated as part of the 2009-10 Aged Care Approvals Round,” Mr Butler said.

"To meet demand in the community I have made available a further 2,551 community care places on top of more than 4,000 that were originally advertised.

“These extra community care places have mainly been allocated to areas in states and territories where there has been an under-allocation of residential places.”

Two-thirds of the additional community places allocated were either Extended Aged Care at Home or Extended Aged Care at Home Dementia packages that would involve nursing care and were designed as a high-level residential care alternative.

“I considered this necessary to ensure that older people looking for care in their own homes and communities, have access to care,” the Minister said. “The vast majority of older Australians prefer to continue living in their own homes.

“It’s clear to me that there are continuing pressures on our existing aged care system that need to be addressed and that reform is essential to build a more sustainable system that continues to provide high quality, affordable care into the future.

“That is why the Gillard Labor Government has tasked the Productivity Commission with undertaking a comprehensive inquiry into aged care to develop options for further structural reform of the aged care system.

“The Commission is due to release its draft report in January 2011 and final report in June 2011.

“We have made it clear that aged care reform is a second term priority for the Australian Government.

“The time is right for long-term change and I believe the sector and the Australian community wants, and is ready for, that change.”

For more information, please contact Mr Butler’s office on 02 6277 7280

FURTHER INFORMATION

More information on the 2009-10 Aged Care Approvals Round, Round Two of the Zero Real Interest Loans initiative, and the results of the Extra Service Round are available at http://www.health.gov.au/acar2009-10

Decisions on aged care places, capital grants, loans, and extra service status are made independently by the Department of Health and Ageing. The process aims to allocate places to aged care provider organisations that best meet the identified needs of local communities.