Media Release by Senator the Hon Mitch Fifield

Supporting Greater Choice for Older Australians

Joint Media Release with:

  • The Hon. Scott Morrison MP, Minister for Social Services

The 2015 Budget is part of the Commonwealth Government’s plan to build a strong, safe and prosperous future for all Australians.

The Government is improving aged care in Australia to reduce regulation and allow home care funding to follow the individual to provide greater choice over their future.

Flexible in home care

The Government is investing $73.7 million over four years to improve the way home care services are delivered to older Australians.

Australians deserve to be able to choose their own service provider and be in charge of their own care.

We are living longer and healthier lives, and it is important that as Australians age, they retain control over choices that impact their lives.

The Government’s  investment will allow the $7.5 billion provided over four years for home care packages to be used by older Australians to pay for the services they need to remain in their own home for longer.

In 2013-14 more than 80,000 Australians received a Home Care Package, and almost 776,000 received Home and Community Care Services.

This new funding will open up competition in the home care sector, leading to enhanced quality, innovation and service delivery.

From 1 February 2017, older Australians receiving Home Care Packages each year will have control over their funds and will be able to direct them to the providers of their choice.

Currently, funding for Home Care Packages goes straight to the service provider and the individual has to find a service with an available package.

The changes place individuals at the centre of their care and in control of their funds, similar to the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

The Government also intends to establish a single integrated care at home programme, combining the Commonwealth Home Support Programme and Home Care Packages from July 2018.

The Department of Social Services will be consulting with stakeholders on potential programme and funding models, as well as options for implementation and transition.

This will make the aged care system easier for older people and their families to understand as well as reduce red tape for providers.

A robust aged care complaints scheme

From 1 January 2016 responsibility for handling aged care complaints will transfer to the Aged Care Commissioner from the Department of Social Services.

Moving these powers to the Aged Care Commissioner will ensure this important safety net is more robust and independent.

All older Australians have the right to quality care and to feel safe when receiving aged care.

Establishing an independent complaints mechanism will help ensure people can have confidence that their complaints will be appropriately managed and addressed.

More short-term restorative care

The Government is establishing a new form of short-term restorative care to support older people to improve their capacity to remain independent and in their homes longer.

Restorative care is used to help older people regain independence and function after a setback, such as illness or a fall. It is provided for short periods after which they can return home, rather than entering residential aged care.

The new programme will allow aged care providers to develop and offer restorative care, and will also incorporate the existing Transition Care Programme that assists older people to return home after a hospital stay.

The Government is committed to building a sustainable, affordable and equitable aged care system for Australia’s future.  It is a system that will nurture strong, viable businesses, attract a strong workforce, and deliver choice and flexibility for consumers.

A Better Quality Framework for aged care

The Government is moving to help the aged care industry develop a more sophisticated definition of quality – that goes beyond ticking boxes – to ensure the expectations of older Australians are met or exceeded.

Currently, the Government’s Aged Care Quality Agency is the sole provider of aged care accreditation services.

While the Aged Care Quality Agency responsibility to maintain accreditation standards to protect residents will always be crucial, the Government will explore new ways to help the industry adapt to new consumer demands and preferences.

The Government will work with the aged care sector to identify opportunities to improve quality assessment and risk management systems. Currently, different arrangements apply in residential care compared to at-home care services. This increases complexity and red tape for providers who deliver both types of care.

The Government will also work with the sector to deliver private market provision of accreditation services as part of a single aged care quality regime across both community and residential care. This would improve and simplify the accreditation process for providers.

This process will include the expansion of cost recovery arrangements for accreditation services for residential aged care providers by the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency.

Competition in accreditation services will help put downward pressure on these costs for providers while improving the overall quality for older Australians.

Budget fact sheets