It was announced today that the government would be providing an additional $649 million per year to aid the creation of 9,911 new residential aged care places in the 2016-17 Aged Care Approvals Round, with 2,719 of those places to be offered to services outside metropolitan areas.
Federal Minister for Aged Care Ken Wyatt says with the countries rapidly ageing population, the Australian Government is committed to providing a sustainable aged care system that meets the needs of our older generations.
“As people grow older they increasingly want flexibility in the services they receive and how and when they access them,” Mr Wyatt says.
“Australians want greater choice and control over their care and this investment does exactly that.
“Three quarters of these residential places are being provided to the development of new aged care services, the remainder will enable existing aged care providers to expand their current facilities.”
The Australian Government has also committed to invest an additional $64 million in capital grants across the nation to help approved providers establish new services or upgrade existing facilities. Of that figure, over $57.6 million has been approved for non-metropolitan services.
Mr Wyatt says it is estimated the government will have spent $18.6 billion on aged care in 2017-18, with that figure rising to 22.3 billion by 2020-21.
Pat Sparrow, Chief Executive Officer for peak national body for not-for-profit aged care services Aged and Community Services Australia, said while the additional investment in residential care beds is welcome, the Aged Care Allocation Round process which allocates the licences is very “administrative and restrictive”.
“There was again significant demand for residential aged care places with 45,000 applications for aged care bed licences with 9,911 allocated,” Mr Sparrow says.
“There will always need to be safeguards in place to ensure supply in rural and remote areas and for disadvantaged groups such as homeless people, but uncapping the supply of beds will enable aged care providers do what they do best – providing care and support – while giving older Australians better services and more choice.
“ACSA looks forward to working with Government to ensure that older Australians, regardless of where they live, can access a residential care place when they need it.”
Council on the Ageing (COTA) Chief Executive Officer Ian Yates also voiced concerns about the Aged Care Allocation Round process, saying the government needs to reconsider the process and move to system that better meets demand for higher quality care where and from whom older people want it.
“Additional aged care beds are very welcome, together with the lots more Home Care Packages that are budgeted between now and 2020, but it’s time for government to set an early timetable for ending the ACAR process that acts as a restraint of trade on high quality aged care providers,” Mr Yates says.
“While safeguarding beds to ensure adequate supply in some rural and remote areas where supply is thin makes sense, the current ACAR process requires radical reform to free up the supply of residential aged care in most of Australia.
“ACAR is no longer fit for purpose – it did play an important role in the past but it is now holding back innovation, competition between providers based on quality, and consumer choice and control.”
The aged care bed licence allocation will see the 10,000 proposed spots divided between the states – 2,680 in Queensland, 2,645 in Victoria, 2,470 in New South Wales,1,623 in Western Australia, 215 in South Australia, 175 in the Australian Central Territory and 103 in Tasmania.