"$17.7b for older Australians - a boon or inadequate?" - Meander Valley Gazette

THE FEDERAL Government’s aged care budget funding injection of $17.7b over four years will be a boon to aged care in the Meander Valley, says Aged Care Deloraine CEO Nadine Ozols said.

Australia’s Council on the Ageing CEO Ian Yates has labelled the funding ‘a serious and meaningful response to the Royal Commission’.

And Lyons Federal MP Brian Mitchell is critical of industry worker issues and believes the Budget measures won’t make enough difference.

‘I spent half a day as a dish stacker in an aged care kitchen’, he said.

‘People working there never stopped – and they told me it was a slow day!’

$3.9b A recommended minimum staff time of 200 minutes a day with each resident, including 40 minutes with a registered nurse.

Nadine Ozols said the move is positive.

‘The government is introducing a new funding model which is supposed to factor in the 200 minutes – we’re waiting for the details’, she said.

‘The new model comes out on October 2022 and the 200 minutes will be introduced in 2023. Deloraine Aged Care already has a registered nurse on duty 24 hours a day.’

Brian Mitchell believes aged care facilities need more staff on the ground.

‘They want more time to spend with resi- dents’, he said.

‘Yes, they are delivered a meal. But have they eaten it? There’s no time to sit and hold someone’s hand. I’ve seen carers on a break eat their meal with an older person just to give them some company.

‘Middle aged carers’ hearts are breaking because they don’t have time to care for peo- ple properly.’

$3.2b Increase the basic daily fee per resident by $10 a day.

This will roll out from July 1 this year, according to Nadine.

‘It will help cover some of our losses. It’s a temporary measure until the new funding model arrives in 2022’.

$7.1b More funding for daily care of older Australians in residential aged care. Increased transparency around staffing and public funding, ensuring all aged care facilities have a minimum staff time per resident.

COTA’s Ian Yates said these measures need to be stronger than announced.

‘We will continue to argue for mandatory full transparency about staffing numbers and mix. The Australian public deserves to know how their funding of aged care is being spent’, he said.

Nadine Ozols said that while Deloraine Aged Care’s finances are already publicly available, from July 2021 financial reporting by aged care facilities will be strengthened.

‘From July 2022, families will receive a monthly care statement about the care their family member has received that month’, she said.

A trained and registered workforce

Nadine Ozols believes this is a weak spot in aged care and Brian Mitchell agrees. ‘It’s shocking that our most vulnerable people are being cared for by staff paid $22 an hour. We need to be able to attract staff to aged care and create an aged care profession’, Nadine said.

Brian Mitchell believes the key issues are overwork and underpayment of people working in aged care.

‘Staff are run ragged trying to complete tasks’, he said.

‘One carer told me she could go into MacDonalds and be paid $27 an hour, compared with $22 in a nursing home. Older people can’t have a dignified old age without more people on the ground. It’s difficult to recruit and train people and the government isn’t doing anything about that.’

Ian Yates believes introducing an aged care screening system for personal care workers and funding 33,800 traineeships by extending JobTrainer will start the important work of increasing the number of workers needed in the system.

He is calling on the government to join the Fair Work Case in order to speed up the process and make provision for funding an increase in worker wages in MYEFO in December.

By 2024 the Federal Government will abolish bed licences and the Aged Care Approval Round and implement a system where care is guaranteed within 30 days.

Nadine Ozols said Deloraine’s Grenoch in Deloraine has 47 bed licences while Kanangra has 48.

‘Each year we can apply for additional bed licences’, she said.

Mr Yates said, ‘COTA warmly welcomes this decision. The bed licence system has protected poorer quality providers from competitive pressure from high quality providers, who have been prevented from expanding to meet consumer demand.'

‘When aged care providers do a poor job, older people should be able to move out and take their funding with them. In three years they’ll be able to do exactly that. This will ensure all older Australians get the care they need, when they need it, where they choose it and how they direct it.’

As seen in the Meander Valley Gazette - June 2021.