PM pumps $537m into improving aged care
Scott Morrison has been through the pain and family distress, and so have tens of thousands of other Australians.
It is the emotional decision to settle an elderly loved one in a facility that will probably be their final address.
The Prime Minister today called it "a very uncomfortable exercise for all" as he announced an extra $537 million as a response to the interim report of the royal commission into aged care.
"I think there are few families around the country, my own included, who are unfamiliar with the difficult decisions that are made about relatives and loved ones who are placed into aged care facilities," the Prime Minister told reporters in Canberra.
The package released today, with more funding to come when the royal commission issues its final report next year, was dominated by $496.3 million for an extra 10,000 home care packages.
About $25,000 would go to improving medication management after the royal commission's findings of the practice of "chemical restraint" on aged care residents, and new restrictions and education on them being prescribed.
Further, $10 million will go specifically to training in support of dementia patients in homes, and $4.7 million to hasten the removal of young, disabled people from aged care homes and their placement in appropriate facilities for their age group.
Aged Care Minister Richard Colbeck raised the prospect of funding support for care facilities along lines not yet highlighted by the royal commission. He called it "a new methodology for the remuneration of aged care facilities".
Senator Colbeck said the system, started in 2008, was "generally recognised as not being fit for purpose any longer".
One of the changes, and the source of anguish for all involved, is the growing incidence of people staying at home longer, and having only a short time in residential facilities.
Mr Morrison said it was well-known in the sector that "people when they're going into aged care now are going in for a shorter period of time".
This was requiring "a much higher level of service" for treatment of dementia and related ailment of the elderly, which might affect the financial stability of facilities.
"The funding and structure of these commercial centres, and not-for-profit too, by the way, obviously is impacted by the change in how demand is finding its way into the system," Mr Morrison said.
"A lot of facilities have been built on the long-stay, lower care requirements.
"People sometimes choosing not to take those places up and stay at home and get in-home care places.
"It's a sector going through a lot of structural change."
He said the Government wanted to help people make the difficult choices of aged care as health care and support needs changed.
"It's not to run an institutional system," Mr Morrison said.
"It's not an end in itself. The purpose is to help people with the choices they want to make about their futures."