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Tuesday, 11 May 2004

Welcome relief for Residential Aged Care - let's not forget Community Care

“The 2004 Budget will contribute to improving infrastructure for high quality aged care in the future. Our aged care system must provide needs based access for all Australians; but especially pensioners and people in regional and remote Australia” said Lin Hatfield Dodds, National Director of UnitingCare Australia.

“Removing the five year limit on accommodation charges for new high care residents is a welcome move. Also welcome is the one off payment of $3,500 per resident which will help fund the capital improvements required to meet 2008 building guidelines.”

“Modest increases to recurrent subsidies should be treated with caution as they are still linked to an indexation tool that does not fully reflect the real cost of providing quality care. Instead of fixing the faulty indexation tool, the Government has opted for conditional adjustment payments. The conditions attached to these payments are unclear and services will not be able to access most of the money until well into the future.”

“Supplementary funding for dementia and palliative care would be helpful but is not due to come on line until 2006.”

“While improving capital investment can support quality care, the quality of life for residents is actually based on caring and supportive relationships. More attractive wages and better avenues for career development are urgently needed to attract and retain qualified caring staff.”

“The burden of paperwork and reporting needs to be reduced to ensure that staff have more time to spend with residents. While the Budget allocates some funding to streamline administration, other measures such as a new system for resident classifications could increase paperwork in the short term” said Lin Hatfield Dodds.

“The additional viability supplement for rural & remote areas will provide $2.3m in the 2004-5 year. Whether this is sufficient to guarantee access for older people in the country and the bush remains to be seen.”

“As structural ageing begins to bite, providing care at home needs to become a realistic option for more Australians. While the Government has announced a doubling of the places offered in the community, this care must be properly funded so that the level of care is of a consistently high quality. UnitingCare Australia is concerned that the Government has still not released the outcome of the Community Care Review.”

“UnitingCare Australia welcomes the release of the Hogan Pricing Review. We will examine the report closely to see whether the Budget delivers on all recommendations of this long awaited report”


Contacts:
Lin Hatfield Dodds, National Director, UnitingCare Australia: (bh) 02 6290 2160 (m) 0408 402 222