Additional aged care funding a must, says Just Better Care CEO

By Sarah Stowe | 29 Oct 2015 View comments

The CEO of in-home service provider Just Better Care, Trish Noakes said whoever wins the upcoming Federal election needs to urgently establish a plan outlining how they will funnel more money into aged care. 

“The bottom line is we do not have the beds, the staff or the health facilities to cope with the tsunami of people requiring aged care over the next decade and beyond,” she said.

Noakes stresses the recent funding increase is simply not enough, and securing additional funding is a matter of urgency.

“This is an issue that affects each and every one of us in Australia and as others have said the recent funding increase for aged care ‘barely scrapes the bottom of the barrel’.

“We need more funding – should it be another increase to the Medicare levy? – an urgent plan is needed and given the nation’s finances are currently under scrutiny – now is the time,” said Noakes.

She recognises both Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott have proposed plans to improve aged care, with Rudd announcing he is committed to improving the industrial situation for workers in aged care and Abbott promising to cut red tape.

“These are both great initiatives but the reality is the system is failing on a much broader scale.”

“The 2011 Productivity Commission report “Caring for Older Australians” recommended giving control of aged care packages to individuals – this has not happened,” Noakes said.

“The Government has gone part-way with the move to consumer directed care but the reality is quotas are still in place for packages. Many people are still not having their needs met, and waiting lists still exist.”

Fast facts on the predicted state of Australia’s ageing population by 2050:

  • People aged 70 years and over will represent 17.3 percent of the population – nearly one in five (it is  about 10 percent today) or 6.3 million people.*
  • Five percent of the population – or 1.8 million people will be aged 85 years or more – an increase from 1.6 percent of the population today.*
  • Healthcare and aged related expenditure combined will consume 40 percent of total government outlays.*
  • On current models of service, the industry will need four times as many staff to meet expected demand.*
  • Without a medical breakthrough, the number of people with dementia is expected to be almost 900,000, compared to 320,000 today.**

Noakes believes the Government and Opposition should address a number of other issues in the lead-up to the election.

These include:

  • Ensuring adequate funding of the DisabilityCare scheme including market pay rates for carers.
  • Including people over 65 years who acquire a disability in the DisabilityCare scheme.
  • Introducing initiatives to ensure young people with disabilities do not live in aged care facilities.
  • Increasing funding for staff training in aged care and recruiting additional males and carers for NESB people.

 *Preparing for a Better Future- Creating a Sustainable Future of Aged Care Services for Australia – Business Council of Australia – Dec 2011
**Alzheimers Australia