Transcript 2SM Breakfast with Grant Goldman
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6 August 2012
E & OE Only
Topics: Aged Care, HACC, Dementia, 2012 National Aged Care Conference
Grant Goldman: More than a thousand delegates and aged care experts are to convene in Adelaide to discuss healthcare policy and reform for Australia's ageing population.
Starting today, the inaugural two-day National Aged Care Conference is to showcase and discuss the Federal Government's Living Longer Living Better aged care reform package unveiled in April. It's a 10-year package which came into effect last month. It's going to allow older Australians to receive care in their own homes for longer, which I'm here to tell you is the want for most elderly people.
The Government's going to spend $3.7 billion over five years to increase in-home care options, provide more support for dementia sufferers and attract more workers to the sector which will need to cater, if you think about it, to more than 3.5 million seniors by 2050.
We have the Ageing Minister Mark Butler on the line right now as a matter of fact.
Good morning, Mark.
Mark Butler: Morning; how are you?
Grant Goldman: Very good.
At the outset, this innovation will provide jobs as well.
Mark Butler: Well, it will. We've got 300,000 people working in the aged care sector today. Over the next few decades we're going to need almost one million people working in the aged care sector.
Grant Goldman: Mmm.
Mark Butler: We'll get to a point where one in 20 workers in Australia is an aged care worker, which is just an extraordinary thing to think about.
Grant Goldman: Sometimes it can adversely affect an elderly person's health by moving them from their home; just that one act can actually make their health go down hill, can't it?
Mark Butler: Look, it's very traumatic. I mean, sometimes people are just at a level of frailty and need that they do need residential care; but what we're concerned about as a government - and I know the community is concerned about - is when people have to move into residential care just because there aren't enough supports at home.
So really, the focus of this package that the Prime Minister and I announced several months ago is to ensure that people are able to stay in their own home for as long as they possibly can, and if at all possible, for the remainder of their lives.
Grant Goldman: Mmm. Will it be in the form of a living-in or will it be like the old district nurse?
Mark Butler: Well, a bit similar to the district nurse…
Grant Goldman: Do you remember them? [Laughs]
Mark Butler: Yeah, well, only vaguely, only vaguely. But really it is to provide professional assistants coming into your home, depending on your level of need. Now, some people might only need half an hour or an hour in the morning to help them.
Grant Goldman: Yeah.
Mark Butler: People with a higher level of need might need a few hours of care every day, so it's about…
Grant Goldman: Oh, gee, that's great news because basically it's a case-by-case basis, isn't it?
Mark Butler: That's right. We're introducing new levels of package so that there will hopefully be a level of package to cater for every person's need.
We're also providing more support to informal carers who are family members caring for their loved ones - usually a husband or a wife who is caring for their loved one 24 hours a day, seven days a week - and they need lots of support themselves to ensure that they stay well.
Grant Goldman: Yeah, look, at the end of the day many carers are people who have had to give up their positions. Often you'll get daughters and sons who give up their position so they can look after an elderly parent; and they do it because they love them; and basically, they'll say, well, there's no alternative; it's me. It's me or nobody.
Mark Butler: That's right; and they need support. They need support from the broader community, training about how to perform some functions they might not be used to performing, respite so that they can take a break themselves and keep physically healthy themselves; and sometimes also they need extra counselling services which we've provided extra funding for, delivered by Carers Australia.
So a whole range of support for carers as well, again to just open up options for families about where their loved ones as they age are able to spend their final months and years.
Grant Goldman: That's right.
How much of an ageing population is Australia compared to the rest of the world?
Mark Butler: Well, the ageing of our population is actually happening a little more slowly than most other western or…
Grant Goldman: Oh, really? Mmm…
Mark Butler: … developed countries, but largely because we've still got a relatively good birth rate - a much higher birth rate than most European countries, for example, and higher than Britain much higher than Japan - and also because we've got a strong immigration policy.
So Japan is seen as the most out-there, if you like, in terms of its ageing, because it's got a very low birth rate and next to no immigration. So already Japan has about a quarter of its population over the age of 65; we won't get there until 2050, or thereabouts.
So we do have much more time to prepare for this in terms of, you know, our capacity to provide support for a much larger number of older people; but also to think about the opportunities that come from having a very large baby-boomer generation entering retirement; they're healthy; they're relatively wealthy; and they're going to have wonderful opportunities for themselves and to contribute to society.
Grant Goldman: Mind you, I'm one of those baby boomers and my bank manager said, no, you won't be able to retire, so you keep working, son. That's another story.
I just had a look at something here that could be good. A lot of people who are elderly are computer savvy these days and I noticed the conference with the aged care experts in Adelaide is actually going to be streamed live on line. Will this give people any chance to interact on some of the things that are being said and done there?
Mark Butler: Well, I'm not sure we have the capacity to interact, except to provide comment on line and through Twitter and all the other, you know, forms of media we can do nowadays; but you're right. There is this, still, myth in the community among some people that older people don't like computers. Well…
Grant Goldman: What a lot of rubbish.
Mark Butler: … the fastest-growing group of Internet users are aged between 65 and 74.
Grant Goldman: Mmm hmm.
Mark Butler: They're growing very, very fast; so we do have that capacity to search Living Longer Living Better.
And to have a look at some of the proceedings this morning: Ita Buttrose is speaking at the conference in her capacity as president of Alzheimer's Australia, because there's a very significant package in there to fight dementia, a very serious condition affecting about 300,000 people in Australia today.
Grant Goldman: Telling me. Now, how will they be able to get onto this live streaming?
Mark Butler: Well, I don't have the website in front of me, unfortunately, but if you search Living Longer Living Better, you'll get that…
Grant Goldman: It'll probably come up there somewhere.
Mark Butler: Yeah, you'll get that through the Department…
Grant Goldman: Living Longer Living Better.
Mark Butler: Right.
Grant Goldman: Okay. Good luck with that; sounds like a good move; well done.
Mark Butler: Thanks for having me.
Grant Goldman: Thanks, Mark. Mark Butler is the Minister for Ageing
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