Date published: 
17 December 2018
Media type: 
Media release
Audience: 
General public

JOHN STANLEY:

The government is announcing a significant increase in spending on older Australians; we know about the aged care issue.

I did mention earlier in the program that there’s a number which I’ve heard, which is that there are 1000 people turning 85 every week in Australia, so that’s the ageing of the baby boomers; plenty of people still active, but you start to get into that area where you need that extra help.

And a lot of that extra help comes in the form of in home care.

My understanding is that there’s a very long list of people who are waiting for in home care, who have been approved for that in home care.

The government’s releasing another 10,000 high level home care packages, so more people will be able to access that. The Federal health Minister joins us on the line now. Greg Hunt, good morning to you.

GREG HUNT:

Good morning John.

JOHN STANLEY:

Now this is 552.9 million of extra funding which I presume is flying from the better budget position, is it?

GREG HUNT:

That’s exactly right. Because we have a stronger budget, we’re able to invest in these absolutely essential services.

So there are, as you said, 10,000 additional home care packages for people that want to stay at home, which is what the vast majority of people would prefer to do when they’re older.

They have needs, they might need support getting in and out of bed, they might need support with their medication. But if they’re in a position where if they can stay at home, they’d vastly prefer to stay at home.

And for mums and dads or grandparents or if you’re an older listener, it’s such an important sense of peace of mind. And going into Christmas, you know that from 7 January, these packages will be flying.

JOHN STANLEY:

Okay. So they’ll be flying from 7 January. So that’s someone- they have a provider do they? They sign an arrangement with a provider who then comes everyday or maybe there all day, whatever it might be?

GREG HUNT:

That’s right. So the way it works is that you can either have residential care, which many people will know as nursing homes, or you can have home care and there are different levels those packages.

They’re graded to the need of the person and so it’s a very, very good system. But exactly as it’s set out, as a country, as everybody’s long predicted, we are getting older and therefore we need more services to support people as they get older in their own home.

There couldn’t be a sort of a more important or more humane thing and the great news is we can do this precisely because as Josh Frydenberg is setting out right now – we have a stronger budget and therefore we can invest in these services.

JOHN STANLEY:

Am I correct that there’s quite a long waiting list for these services?

GREG HUNT:

There has been and what we’re doing is, in particular, focusing on the higher levels now, what are called the levels 3 and level 4.

Many people will have access to the levels 1 and level 2, but the- a lot of older residents will be looking to see if they can have the higher level of services, it’s just determined by the assessment – what somebody needs.

And this will help them and it flows from 7 January. And over Christmas, as families are sitting down and trying to plan mum and dad or grandad’s needs, if you are mum or dad or grandad, you’re planning your own needs, it’s just that extra sense of - okay, we’re being looked after, we’ve got options.

JOHN STANLEY:

Alright. So we had a caller earlier and I’m not sure how these work, but they had a contract for aged care in the home and they were saying that under the terms of the contract they had, that they had to pay a break fee of over $700 if they wanted to change provider. Is that how it works? Are there providers that you then contract to provide services?

GREG HUNT:

Yes. So essentially you’re given a package you negotiate with a provider. But if your producer could share the caller’s details with my office after this, we’ll work with them to see there’s anything that can be done, whether there’s anything that was inappropriate.

The other thing that’s happening is we’re reducing fees, so we’ll be reducing fees by up to $400 a year. People tend to make a contribution and particularly for the lower cost packages, we’d inherited from the previous government a set of fees that were high precisely because of the budget position we can reduce those fees.

We’ll pick up cost ourselves and that means more packages and fewer out of pocket costs. I think are really important cost of living measure for a lot of Australians as well as a health and care measure.

JOHN STANLEY:

You said those people in residential care will all be getting- they’ll be paying less according to the figures I’m seeing.

GREG HUNT:

This is for the home care packages and in addition there’s also funding for residential care – over $112 million to boost residential care.

So the home care, residential care and the cost of living are all being dealt with, that’s why it’s a $550 million aged care package. But at the end of the day, it’s better services and lower cost of living for older Australians.

JOHN STANLEY:

Only got about 30 seconds here, but the story today about asylum seekers who are coming here to get medical treatment being put up in hotels. Been going for a while, why is that still happening?

GREG HUNT:

Well, I’ll leave that to David Coleman to deal with the issues. But the essential point here is, we took 2000 kids who were in detention when we came into office and there are now zero in Australia.

We’re dealing with people who have medical conditions on Nauru and there were over 250 children, it’s now down to literally just a handful and here’s part of the fraud in the ALP position. Where people need medical help, they get medical help.

But what we want support is something which will dismantle border protection, at the end of the day, lead to tragedy at seat recommencing and that’s exactly what Bill Shorten was proposing only yesterday.

JOHN STANLEY:

Alright Minister. I appreciate your time. We’ll try and deal with that caller we had earlier in the hour about the break fee with that aged care provider as well and we’ll try and get that information to the Minister’s office as soon as possible.

 

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