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Budget 2009: Measures to support older Australians.

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Minister for Ageing


12 May 2009

Measures to Support Older Australians

The 2009-10 Budget continues the Rudd Government’s support for aged and community care, focusing on supporting all older Australians, including those in rural and remote areas.

Measures in the Budget will:

• Increase Government subsidies to help residential aged care services to operate viably in areas where it is difficult to do so, such as in regional, rural and remote Australia; • Fund an improved national approach to quality palliative care; • Give people with incontinence better value and choice in the special products

they need in their lives; • Ensure the needs of older Australians are properly assessed when they enter aged care; and • Continue the highly successful Transition Care program, helping older

Australians return to the independence of their homes after a hospital stay.

These measures all reflect the single focus of our aged care approach - people. We are building an aged care system for 21st century Australia - a system that properly looks after the frail and aged.

They build on record funding for aged and community care. Over the next four years, increased funding from the Australian Government will bring direct financial support for aged and community care providers who care for older Australians to a record level of $44 billion. That is more than $2.5 billion over previous projections for aged and community care.

• Increase in the viability supplement

The Australian Government will ensure continued investment by the industry to meet the increasing demand for aged care in high need areas.

A total of $14.8 million is being allocated to increase the viability supplements the Government pays to eligible residential aged care providers in regional, rural and remote areas.

From 1 January 2010, the average daily supplement will increase by more than 40 per cent over the next two years - from $3.43 to $5.12.

• Continuation of National Palliative Care Strategy

With the population ageing and people’s strong preference nearing the end of life to die ‘at home’, there is increasing emphasis on providing quality palliative care services at home and in home-like settings.

The Government will provide $14.4 million over four years to continue palliative care initiatives started under the Australian Health Care Agreements. These include national standards, service benchmarking and performance information, undergraduate training, and professional development for service providers, including in rural areas.

• Continence Aids Payment

People with severe and permanent incontinence will be able to shop around to get the best value and most appropriate products for their individual needs under a Government proposal to create a Continence Support Payment.

At present, they can only access their subsidised products from the one provider. Currently they can buy up to $479.40 worth of continence products from this provider. From 1 July 2010, a payment will be paid directly to them, so that people

will be able to use it to buy from a range of continence product suppliers, their pharmacy or retail outlets.

• Modifying the Aged Care Funding Instrument

This proposal will correct an unintended consequence from when the Aged Care Funding Instrument (ACFI), the new funding model for the aged care industry, was introduced on 20 March 2008.

The ACFI has unintentionally classified some residents as high care when they don’t require this high level of care. This is being rectified so that only people needing a higher level of care are appraised as such. This was in response to the aged care

industry’s concerns.

• Continuation of the highly successful Transition Care Program

The Rudd Labor Government’s four year $293.2 million Transition Care Plan is on track and it has already helped more than 10,000 older Australians during last financial year regain their independence after a hospital stay.

The second tranche of 470 transition care places will begin to be distributed on July 1.

In the 2007-2008 financial year, 10,146 people received assistance through transition care.

Research from the Department of Health and Ageing on the 2007-2008 transition care places found that 78 per cent of transition care participants had improved or maintained their functioning. Almost half (49 per cent) were able to return to the community after participating.

It can be provided for a maximum of 12 weeks, with a possible extension of another six weeks, either in the client’s own home or in a home-like environment in a bed-based residential setting.

Nationally, by mid-2012, when all 4,000 transition care places are fully operational, up to 30,000 older Australians will benefit each year. Each funded place can be used by up to seven or eight different older Australians a year.

Details: (02) 6277 7280 or Kathryn Conroy 0448 249 447