Aged care providers spending $12 a day on allied health services: StewartBrown survey – but most hours provided by lifestyle officers

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Aged care residents are receiving 15 minutes a day of allied health services – but half of this care is being delivered by lifestyle officers, rather than qualified allied health workers or external providers.

The survey of 62 aged care providers and 331 aged care homes representing 7% of the sector – the first of its kind by the accounting firm – found providers spent $11.97 on allied health services per bed per day – $5.90 on internal staff and $6.07 on external contractors.

Physiotherapy accounted for $6 or 50% of total funding being spent on allied health, followed by lifestyle officers at $3.68 per bed per day (32% of total).

Unsurprisingly then, lifestyle officers – which cost an average of $31 an hour – and physiotherapists – $41 an hour – accounted for the highest number of hours per bed day – 47% and 36% respectively.

Occupational therapy, podiatry, and dietetics – which cost between $45 and $95 an hour – made up less than 5% of hours – while speech pathology was zero.

Allied health services were also offered as additional services in 29% of facilities.

Royal Commission to focus on wellness and reablement

The results appear to indicate the obvious – providers don’t have the cash to offer more allied health services.

Could this change however?

The Counsel Assisting had proposed a range of recommendations to improve access to allied health services – and focus on wellness and reablement – in the Royal Commission’s final hearing.

“There will be greatly improved access to allied and other health professionals in accordance with assessed need,” Senior Counsel Assisting Peter Gray QC concluded.

“Preventative and restorative care delivered by multidisciplinary teams will be expected. People receiving aged care will have far better access to general practitioners, specialists, dentists and pharmacists at their place of residence, whether that be at home in the community, or in residential aged care.”

Will we see this make the list of recommendations in the Royal Commission’s Final Report?

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