The Morrison Government is continuing to implement its response to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, with a further financial investment of $632.6 million.
This builds on the record funding of $17.7 billion already committed in the 2021-22 Budget, based on a five pillar five year plan to ensure senior Australians receive the care, respect and dignity they deserve.
The Morrison Government’s additional commitments in the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) MYEFO update brings the total investment in response to the Royal Commission’s final report to more than $18.3 billion, and more than $19.5 billion since the Royal Commission was established in 2018.
Expansion of the Community Visitors Scheme
To address loneliness faced by many people as they age, the Government has committed an additional $34.4 million to expand the Community Visitors Scheme (CVS).
The program will support more volunteers to provide companionship to senior Australians. and will expand the number of CVS volunteers by 4,348 places, bringing the total number to 17,811. This responds to responds to Recommendation 44 of the Royal Commission.
Support at Home Program
Work is underway on the design of a new simpler, fairer and more transparent system to provide in-home aged care to enable senior Australians to remain in their own home for as long as they wish.
This Support at Home Program, which will replace the Commonwealth Home Support Program, Home Care Packages Program, and the Short Term Restorative Care Program, will lead to greater transparency on administration fees and lower costs .
The Government will commence a process to establish new assessment arrangements which make the system simpler and more responsive to the needs of the individual in being assessed for care.
Particular attention will be paid to meeting the needs of senior Australians from diverse backgrounds including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Improving home-based care for senior Australians living with a disability
The Morrison Government is increasing the funding for the Disability Support for Older Australians (DSOA) program with an additional $229.3 million over 2 years, which will assist with aligning DSOA services and prices with the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).
The Government has obligations to provide continuity of support to people with disability aged 65 years and over, or 50 years and over for First Nations people who were not eligible for the NDIS at the time of implementation in 2012.
There are currently about 2,850 senior Australians receiving disability services and support, though DSOA is a closed program, and the number of participants is decreasing over time.
On average the cost of providing disability care services through DSOA is more than $210,500 per person per year.
Residential Aged Care Services and Sustainability
Delivering strong aged care prudential oversight
The Morrison Government is investing $6.3 million to ensure the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission (ACQSC) is a strong, independent prudential regulator, with a clear mandate to collect financial and prudential information, undertake risk assessment of a provider’s compliance, assess financial viability, and engage with those at risk of failure.
Currently these responsibilities are split between the Department of Health and the ACQSC.
Implementation will be staged, with the ACQSC commencing a transition plan in 2021–22, then further building its prudential capability in 2022–23, including the appointment of a new Deputy Commissioner to drive and shape these new prudential responsibilities. The initial functions will begin transferring to the ACQSC from 1 July 2023.
This responds to Recommendations 130 and 137 of the Royal Commission.
Strategic investment to deliver Australia a stronger and more viable aged care sector
The Morrison Government has committed an additional $64.2 million to support a stronger aged care sector, by assisting residential aged care facilities (RACFs) experiencing financial difficulty to improve their business or to exit the market in a controlled manner.
This investment includes an additional $38.8 million in grant funding to meet the demand for the Business Improvement Fund. This funding has helped aged care providers which submitted applications in the first round of the program - but were unable to be considered due to oversubscription - have applications assessed and funded.
An additional $23.6 million is also being provided to increase the capacity of the new Structural Adjustment Fund to assist providers in 2021–22, prior to the introduction of the new residential aged care funding model in October 2022.
Residential Aged Care Quality and Safety
Equipping the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care to set clinical care standards
The Government is investing an additional $5.7 million over 3 years to support the transition of the clinical care components of the Aged Care Quality Standards to the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (ACSQHC).
The additional investment will fund the ACSQHC to undertake research, sector consultation, clinical standards development and the development of guidance and training tools to support implementation.
This investment will drive improvements to the delivery of oral care, medication management, pressure injuries, wound and continence management, fall prevention and mobility assistance, infection control, and palliative care by aged care providers.
As well as improving clinical outcomes for senior Australians in aged care, this work will also provide the opportunity to increase alignment with the National Safety and Quality Standards Health Service Standards developed by the ACSQHC.
This responds to Recommendations 18 and 19 of the Royal Commission.
Strengthening Provider Governance Arrangements
In the initial response to the Royal Commission’s final report, the Government announced new governance obligations from 1 March 2022 to lift leadership capability. As part of these improvements, aged care providers will be required to submit an annual statement that will include operational information which will be made publicly available (via My Aged Care).
The Government is investing $27 million in the development of an information and communication technology (ICT) capability to support information to be gathered for the annual statement; additional information to be submitted by providers; and the annual statement to be publicly available on My Aged Care.
This responds to recommendation 88 of the Royal Commission.
Young People in Residential Aged Care (YPIRAC)
To expedite the transition of younger Australians to more appropriate accommodation, the Government is investing $34.8 million to extend funding for the YPIRAC System Coordinator Program to 2025 and invest in additional National Disability Insurance Agency staff capacity to help younger NDIS participants to source age-appropriate accommodation and services.
These measures provide additional supports for engagement with younger people in RACFs and younger people at risk of entry to aged care and will ensure maximum effort is put into finding appropriate services, accommodation, and support for younger people with disability.
This responds to Recommendation 74 of the Royal Commission.
Implementation of a Serious Incident Scheme (SIRS) for in-home care
The Morrison Government’s aged care reforms aim to ensure quality of care and safety for senior Australians. Expanding the Serious Incident Scheme (SIRS) to in-home aged care from 1 July 2022 will place new obligations on in-home care providers to respond to, and report on, a range of serious incidents.
The Morrison Government is investing $44.1 million to resource the ACQSC for new functions to oversight the obligations. These include implementing risk-based responses to serious incidents, enforcement action where required, and supporting sector-wide education and improvement.
Funding will also extend to 3 specialist elder abuse support services to maximise protections for vulnerable senior Australians.
This responds to Recommendation 100 of the Royal Commission.
Supporting the Registered Nurses dedicated to providing high quality aged care
The Morrison Government has committed $9.1 million to extend the Aged Care Registered Nurses’ Payment, which aims to attract and retain more highly qualified and dedicated Registered Nurses to the aged care sector.
This extension will increase the payments available to Registered Nurses who are eligible for payments through this program.
Registered Nurses who work at the same provider over a 12-month eligibility period which commenced on 1 November 2021 are eligible for payments under this program. This extension to the program will provide access to half-year payments for Registered Nurses who begin employment within the first half of the existing 12-month eligibility period.
The half-year payment will be $1,850, and will cover eligibility periods:
- 1 May 2022 – 31 October 2022
- 1 May 2023 – 31 October 2023
1,160 Registered Nurses will benefit from the half-year payment.
The Government is also expanding the eligibility criteria for the additional rural and remote payment. Registered Nurses who work for the same aged care provider in a Modified Monash Model (MMM) 3-4 area will now also be eligible for to up to $2,300 per year under this extension.
It’s estimated this will result in around 8,000 more additional payments over the 2 years of the program.
Registered Nurses working in MMM 5-7 are already eligible for this additional payment.
This investment responds to Recommendations 54, 80 and 114 from the Royal Commission.
Improving technology to better share aged care provider information to government
The Morrison Government is investing $154 million over 2 years towards improved ICT to cut paperwork and enable staff more time to care for aged care residents.
The investment in ICT will improve the reporting of information and sharing data with government on how providers are spending the additional resources in response to the Royal Commission and delivering better care.
The Business to Government (B2G) capability allows providers to exchange information with Government in near-real time. This will strengthen reporting and monitoring of regulatory compliance and lessen administrative burden on providers and their workforce.
This will also enable home care providers to begin preparing for the introduction of the new Support at Home program.
This measure responds to Recommendations 25, 27, 28, 35, and 109 of the Royal Commission, and will enable the Government to deliver on its commitments to more than 30 others.
An Inspector-General of Aged Care
A key piece of the Government’s aged care governance is the establishment of an Inspector-General of Aged Care, which will deliver increased accountability and transparency to the aged care system, deliver greater consistency of regulation, and strengthen compliance.
The Morrison Government is investing $8.8 million to appoint an Interim Inspector-General of Aged Care and establish a supporting taskforce within the Department. These arrangements will apply from early 2022 until 30 June 2023, or until the new Aged Care Act takes effect.
The funding will also support the office of the Age Discrimination Commissioner to deliver on the aged care reform agenda, which will complement the work of Interim Inspector-General of Aged Care in protecting senior’s rights.
This responds to Recommendation 12 of the Royal Commission.
More information about the Australian Government’s aged care reform journey is available online - https://www.health.gov.au/initiatives-and-programs/aged-care-reforms