In the 2016-17 federal budget, the Turnbull government announced changes to the Aged Care Funding Instrument, which will result in $1.2 billion cut from aged care funding.
UnitingCare Australia engaged the services of Ansell Strategic to examine the impact of these proposed cuts. They surveyed 501 aged care services, equivalent to 21 per cent of the national aged care sector.
According to the survey, the cuts will reduce annual funding per resident by 11 per cent. The cost to providers will be more than $2.5 billion throughout the next four years, exceeding the government’s forward estimates by $840 million.
Steve Teulan, chair of the UnitingCare Australia Aged Care Network, said the cuts would impact the ability of aged care service providers to support residents suffering chronic pain and disease.
“The 2016-17 budget was particularly harsh as it targeted people with complex health care needs and those receiving treatment for severe pain and chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes and dementia,” he said.
“The government is arbitrarily reducing the level of care assigned to frail older people in care, thereby reducing the level of funding available to deliver that care.
“Under these arrangements, the funding will not cover the costs of services currently provided to residents with complex health care needs. This would mean that older people in care may miss out on vital treatments including physiotherapy, pain management and skin care.”
Mr Teulan said he understands the government’s need to manage expenditure but warned that aged care providers will be forced to review staffing and admission levels as a result of the cuts. More than 80 per cent of providers in the survey indicated they would consider reducing their carer and allied health workforce.
“It is critical at this time that we provide feedback to our political leaders so that they can understand the impact on the most vulnerable people in our society. Rather than merely cost items on a budget spreadsheet, they must be seen as what they really are – our family members and loved ones,” Mr Tuelan said.
“They deserve better and our acute care health system and hospitals are already under extreme pressure.
“We call on the incoming Prime Minister and Treasurer to halt these cuts and to work collaboratively with the aged care sector to identify sustainable options for meeting the health care needs of older people in care,” he said.
UnitingCare Australia has also called on the incoming federal government to establish a taskforce to review the aged care funding process and develop an instrument that provides certainty to residents and providers.
Image by Alan Bull via Free Images.