Future of aged care to rely on ambition and optimism

Innovation, ambition and action are being promised as part of a plan to fix the strained aged care sector and protect it for future generations.

Aged Care Minister Anika Wells will outline the federal government’s priorities for the sector and her vision to restore the dignity of older Australians during a speech to the National Press Club on Wednesday.

Ms Wells will also address a major challenge for government, and a question left unanswered by the royal commission into aged care: how to make the sector equitable and sustainable into the future.

“We know ratio of residential occupancy is trending down as the desire to stay at home trends upward,” she will say.

“It is why we must re-evaluate the funding going into a system asking for more funding.”

Ms Wells, a former aged care worker, is optimistic about the sector’s future following the release of a Quarterly Financial Snapshot which illustrates a major shift in financial performance.

The snapshot reveals that by the end of December 2022, the number of providers making a loss reduced from 66 per cent to 54 per cent.

The minister said this demonstrated reforms were making a difference and the next report was expected to continue the upward viability trend.

In the first 12 months since the election, Ms Wells says the government has been “triaging an absolute crisis” in aged care.

In response, it has funded a 15 per cent pay rise for aged care workers and introduced new laws to amend the sector’s subsidy funding model, as well as reporting and transparency requirements.

From July 1, aged care facilities will also be required to provide around-the-clock nursing, in line with the findings of a royal commission.

But this requirement has sparked warnings that not all aged care providers would be able to meet the target, especially in regional areas with staff shortages, and may have to close.

Ms Wells will outline the next chapter for aged care, shifting from provider-focused to person-focused.

“This is about the government investing in the care that older Australians actually want, and they want to be at home,” she will say.

“This is about delivering a needs-based arrangement that makes financial sense.”


Maeve Bannister
(Australian Associated Press)


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