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Thursday, 15 June 1989
Page: 4174

Senator WALTERS(9.54) —I thank the Minister for his answer. As I understand it, the services will be kept up to date with consumer price index increases. The present money paid to the individual carers is being paid at the rate that they get at the moment, plus increases, some long service leave and other things like that. As the Minister would realise, if one had a 90-bed nursing home, for instance, and one was told that it had to close and that one had to transfer one's patients to the community based accommodation, the actual care in looking after 90 people in much smaller groups in various accommodation would involve more staff, additional assistance in dressing and showering people and all the assistance that should be given to handicapped people, even feeding and cooking for them. There is an additional cost involved because of the accommodation, staff and extra services as a result of smaller, community based accommodation. I have nothing but praise for the Government if it is able to fund that fully because, as the Minister has said, that certainly will create a far greater benefit to handicapped people. The question that I am very concerned about and it is the concern of the majority of the carers is: how on earth is the Government going to fund this new proposal? Several of the carers in some of the nursing homes have come out with the idea that it will cost at least three times the present cost of caring for each individual patient. I do not know whether they are accurate in their costings. They say that to look after someone in a larger nursing home costs at least three times less than putting that person into community based accommodation. Has the Government taken this into consideration? Where is the money coming from? Has all of this been costed?