Federal Budget delivers $1.6 billion for 23,000 new Home Care Packages – but residential care to wait another seven months for any funding relief

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Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has handed down the Morrison Government’s 2020-21 Budget – after a five-month delay due to COVID – but aged care appears to have been shuffled to the back of the queue as Australia’s economic recovery takes precedence.

In total, Mr Frydenberg announced another $2 billion over four years for the additional HCPs plus funding for measures to improve transparency and regulatory standards – both issues highlighted by the Royal Commission in its recent hearings.

This funding will include:

  • $1.6 billion over four years from 2020-21 for the immediate release of another 23,000 home care packages across all package levels
  • $125.3 million over three years from 2020-21 to replace the Commonwealth Continuity of Support Programme with a new Disability Support for Older Australians program to ensure that older Australians with a disability who were not eligible for the National Disability Insurance Scheme continue to receive the supports they need
  • $91.6 million over two years from 2020-21 to continue the reform to residential aged care funding including undertaking ‘shadow assessments’ using the Australian National Aged Care Classification
  • $35.6 million over two years from 2020-21 to provide additional funding for the Business Improvement Fund (BIF) to continue assisting eligible aged care providers to improve their financial operations
  • $29.8 million over three years from 2021-22 to administer the new Serious Incident Response Scheme (a recommendation that the Government already committed to last week in its response to the Royal Commission’s special COVID report)
  • $26.9 million in 2020-21 to support the operation of the My Aged Care system
  • $26 million in 2020-21 to maintain the capacity of the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission in its ongoing regulation and compliance of the aged care sector
  • $21 million over four years from 2020-21 to delay the implementation of payment in arrears and on invoice for home care services as well as provide transition support to providers to adjust to these arrangements
  • $11.4 million in 2020-21 to defer the introduction of a cost recovery levy for unannounced site visits
  • $11.3 million in 2020-21 to provide additional dementia services and training programs
  • $10.6 million over three years from 2020-21 to establish a network of care coordinators to assist younger people in residential aged care or who are at risk of entering residential aged care to look for more age-appropriate accommodation and supports (which the Government also announced last week)
  • $10.3 million over three years from 2020-21 to support the Aged Care Workforce Industry Council to implement the Aged Care Workforce Strategy
  • $4.6 million over two years from 2020-21 to review the support care needs of senior Australians who live in their own home and determine how best to deliver this care in the home
  • $4.1 million in 2020-21 to support the Department of Health and the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission to respond to requests from the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.

We will explore some of these measures and what they will mean for the sector in today’s issue of The Weekly SOURCE.

What is clear however is that there is little immediate funding relief for the residential care sector.

The Budget notes that the Government has already outlaid $1.6 billion since February to support the sector during the pandemic – and more funding will be forthcoming once the Royal Commission delivers its Final Report in February 2021.

“The government will provide a comprehensive response to the final recommendations following receipt of that report,” Mr Frydenberg said. “This will involve significant additional investment.”

Until then, providers will need to hang on.