Leading Age Services Australia (LASA) has launched a national campaign to make funding for accessible, affordable, good quality aged care services a central issue of the 2016 Federal Election.
LASA Chief Executive Officer Sean Rooney said since 2014, Government policy and funding decisions have cut $3.1 billion from Australia’s aged care system.
This includes a $1.7 billion cut for the care of seniors with complex health care needs living in residential aged care.
“The cuts target services such as medication assistance, pain relieving treatments, and other care interventions for the most frail and unwell older Australians receiving aged care services,” Rooney said.
“Today, aged care is a vital issue for some 3.6 million Australians aged 65 and over. In ten years, this number is projected to increase to almost 5 million, an increase of 37 per cent.”
Rooney said there has been an ongoing failure by governments to work cooperatively with the sector to properly plan for, and fund aged care services to meet the growing demand. And, in particular, to ensure the needs of older Australians living in residential aged care receive the full suite of services they need to age well.
“The recent cuts also place additional financial pressure on aged care providers in regional and rural Australia who are already struggling financially. It will be even tougher for aged care providers in these locations to provide accessible, affordable, good quality care,” Rooney said.
“Although the Government has announced a $102 million boost to the Viability Supplement to support regional and rural providers in the 2016-17 Budget, this will make little impact.
“Older Australians living in regional and rural communities should be able to access appropriately funded, sustainable aged care services in their communities, so they can receive the care they need and deserve, close to family and friends.”
Rooney said Governments cutting funding to meet Treasury expenditure projections, is nothing more than complete denial about the growing demand for care, and the true cost of the care our seniors need and deserve.
“We are seeking a commitment from all political parties contesting the 2016 Federal Election to reverse the $3.1 billion of cuts to aged care. Funding cuts that impact the accessibility, affordability and quality of care for many older Australians,” Rooney said.
“We understand that the Federal Budget is under pressure. The answer however is not to impose unilateral cuts. The answer is to work collaboratively with the sector to develop a sound footing for a sustainable aged care sector for today and for the future.”