$522m for aged care but sector laments lack of action on wage growth

Friday, 01 April, 2022

$522m for aged care but sector laments lack of action on wage growth

The federal Budget will provide $522m to the aged-care sector to further help implement the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.

This includes $345.7 million to improve medication management in residential aged care facilities and $48.5 million for 15,000 additional aged-care training places for new and existing personal care workers, to a total of 48,800 places.

Cathie Sherrington, Chief Investigator of the NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence in the Prevention of Falls Injuries and Professor in the Faculty of Medicine and Health, The University of Sydney, said the changes to residential aged care fell well short of the Royal Commission recommendations.

“It is pleasing to see improved medication management in residential care but it is disappointing to see no investment in allied health services in residential care,” Professor Sherrington said.

“The Royal Commission identified mobility impairment and falls as major issues in our aged care facilities and anecdotally, these are now worse as COVID restrictions have limited activities.

“Research has found benefits of physiotherapist-led exercise programs in improving mobility and preventing falls but current funding models do not enable facilities to invest in such programs.”

The Budget will also provide: $20.1 million to the Australian National Aged Care Classification (AN ACC) Transition Fund; $5.4 million to continue consultation and development of a new regulatory framework for aged care; and $6.1 million to continue the rollout of regionally focused Department of Health staff in Primary Health Network regions.

The Australian Aged Care Collaboration said there is nothing in this Budget to improve aged-care wages. “It will leave our dedicated workers on the edge of poverty and many older Australians without the services they need. The Budget confirms the inadequacy of the government’s previous response to the Royal Commission. There is so much more work to be done.”

“The Royal Commission’s workforce recommendations are the key area of unfinished business and the government has left it that way. There are some modest new initiatives that we will evaluate and analyse in the coming days,” the Collaboration said in a statement.

“Since the start of the pandemic, aged-care workers have gone above and beyond. They should be getting the pay they deserve and career certainty. The Royal Commission recognised this. It’s well overtime for the government to fix this once and for all.”

The AACC is a group of six aged-care peak bodies: Aged & Community Services Australia (ACSA), Anglicare Australia, Baptist Care Australia, Catholic Health Australia, Leading Age Services Australia (LASA) and UnitingCare Australia.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/Piotr Pawinski

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