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Federal Labor to tackle the hospital-nursing home blame game.



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JOINT STATEMENT

KEVIN RUDD MP FEDERAL LABOR LEADER and NICOLA ROXON MP SHADOW MINISTER FOR HEALTH

and

SENATOR JAN MCLUCAS

SHADOW MINISTER FOR AGEING, DISABILITIES AND CARERS

FEDERAL LABOR TO TACKLE THE HOSPITAL-NURSING HOME BLAME GAME

A Rudd Labor Government will make reforming the transition from hospital to residential aged care a priority for those older Australians who need nursing home care.

Federal Labor would make reform of the interface between our hospitals and nursing homes a priority area for negotiation with State and Territory Governments under the forthcoming Australian Health Care Agreements which is due to conclude in 2008.

There are currently an estimated 2000 older Australians who have been assessed for residential aged care waiting in hospital wards.

Some are waiting months for a place in a nursing home.

The most glaring problem which prevents older Australians from making a timely move from hospital to residential aged care is the shortage of available aged care beds.

In 1995, there were 92 aged care beds for every 1000 people aged 70 years and over. In December 2006, there were only 86.6 beds for every 1000 people aged 70 years and over.

Older Australians who do not have an acute condition but require dedicated care should not be denied immediate access to a nursing home place. The cost to government of this denial is high.

The average daily cost of a hospital bed is $967, almost nine times the cost of a residential aged care place.

In a year, the cost to the health system of leaving 2000 older Australians waiting for a nursing home bed in a hospital each night is around $700 million.

The failure to bridge the divide between the two forms of care for older Australians is a classic example of the blame game between levels of government at work.

We need to examine whether additional ‘transition’ or ‘step down’ care would assist as well as other measures to increase the speed with which aged care bed licences are operationalised.

A Rudd Labor Government will tackle these issues through assertive action where responsibility lies with the Commonwealth and fostering better cooperation where responsibility is shared, resulting in a better system of care for older Australians.

BRISBANE 8 JUNE 2007

Lachlan Harris (Rudd) 0417 592 338

Attachment

In 1995, there were 92 aged care beds for every 1000 people aged 70 years and over. In December 2006 there were only 86.6 beds for every 1000 people aged 70 years and over.

Figure 1: Aged Care beds per 1,000 people aged over 70

Source: Department of Health and Ageing Annual Reports, 1995-06 to 2005-06

On any night, there are approximately 2,000 older Australians who have had an ACAT assessment waiting for a residential aged care place.

At the same time, there is currently a shortage of more than 2,700 residential aged care places.

Figure 2: People with an ACAT assessment in Hospital and residential aged care bed surpluses and shortages

Source: State and Territory Health Ministers, Department of Health and Ageing December 2006 Stocktake of Aged Care Places, ABS unpublished data.

The average daily cost of a hospital bed is $967, almost nine times the cost of a residential aged care place.

Figure 3: Average cost per day of an acute hospital bed (2004-05)

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2004-05) Australian Hospital Statistics