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Benetas CEO voices concerns over Budget omissions in aged care

15th April 2019

With the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety well underway and many issues already highlighted by Senior Counsel as a priority to be addressed, Ms Hills said she expected a lot more would be committed in this year's budget to support older Australians as they age.

"Since the commencement of the Royal Commission, communities expectations have increased," she said.

"I would imagine that many older members of the community, their families and the aged care workforce would be extremely disappointed with the budget, given there has been some obvious areas requiring improvement coming out of the Royal Commission process to date.

"While I acknowledge the more than $700 million that has been allocated over the next five years to aged care, much of this is not new funding and has already been announced prior to the Budget."

Ms Hills said she was expecting the Government to address in particular, the Home Care wait list, unspent funds and a more needs-focused allocation of Home Care packages as opposed to a level defined by a dollar amount, an issue also highlighted during the most recent Royal Commission hearings on Home Care.

"There is significant inequity in the provision of funding for Home Care clients with a system trying to fit everyone's needs into just four packages," she said.

Ms Hills acknowledges the extension of the Commonwealth Home Support Package (CHSP) and the surety it gives providers and clients, but highlights that work should have been done by government to help provide a more longer-term solution.

"It is not about trying to fix or gap fill with the CHSP or the four Home Care packages provided, but about determining what is our vision for home support going into the future, " she said.

Ms Hills went on to say she expected measures would be put in place to address the thousands of people on the Home Care Package wait list and the $329 million of unspent funds.

"Better use of home care funds is clearly in the interest of consumers," she said.

"It is important for older people to get the care they need at home for their quality of life and also to avoid or defer a move to costlier permanent care. An unreasonable level of unspent funds may adversely affect the client in the long run."

In particular, Ms Hills expressed disappointment in the missed opportunity of funding to implement many of the 14 recommendations from the Aged Care Workforce Report.

"This is a real opportunity missed to enact the important recommendations from the workforce report while the Royal Commission is underway."

"I am left disappointed for older Australians, their families, aged care staff and providers that, given this time of heightened focus on the problems with the aged care system, that the Government has not stepped up to tackle this issue more to allay community concerns."