LOCAL aged care services have welcomed the federal government’s moves to reform the sector.
Tamworth aged care nurses yesterday met with New
England MP Tony Windsor and discussed the 10-year, $3.7 billion plan, which will come into effect in July.
NSW Nurses Association Tamworth representative Roz Norman said the plan was a welcome start to addressing the problems in the sector, particularly the $1.2 billion to be dedicated to building the workforce.
“Hopefully these reforms will get nurses who have left back into aged care and increase their wages,” Mrs Norman said.
Given that weekly wages between aged care and public hospital nurses could differ by $160, she said boosting wages was “desperately needed”.
UnitingCare Ageing Hunter, Central Coast and New England acting regional director Bryan McLoughlin also praised the changes as a step forward.
“The proposal that’s been put through has given providers some confidence in the system,” Mr McLoughlin said.
He said it was too early to know exactly where the funding would go but there were several promising features.
These include provisions to improve access to high-
quality care for financially disadvantaged people and an emphasis on community care.
Keeping people in their homes for as long as possible is a focus of the plan, with an increase in the number of home packages from 59,876 to almost 100,000.
A $54.8 million package will go towards helping carers access respite and other support, and new funding will be dedicated to dementia care.
Care costs will be capped at no more than $25,000 a year and $60,000 over a lifetime.
Costs will be calculated on an individual’s ability to pay, and tighter means-testing will be introduced.
Mr McLoughlin said while services were likely adequate in places such as Tamworth, there were probably gaps in more rural and remote areas.
But with an ageing population, the demand would grow in the future and this plan would help meet that, he said.
Other features of the reforms include an increase of about 30,000 residential aged care places, greater funding for dementia care in residential care services and more support for services.