The government has pledged an additional $662million in aged care funding just one day before the Royal Commission Into Aged Care hears its first witness.
While $282.4million will go towards 10,000 new home care packages, another $320million will be offered to aged care providers to help boost subsidies.
Meanwhile, $4.2million will go towards a medication management program and $7.4million on advisory services for care providers to help improve services.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison insisted in the announcement that the elderly are now the government’s top priority.
“These places give older Australians the choice about how and where they want to live,” he said. “Older Australians have worked hard all their life, paid taxes and done their fair share, and they deserve our support.”
Meanwhile, Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt revealed he hopes the funds will give families more options over which services they choose, as well as speeding up access to home care and reducing waiting lists.
Around $35.7million will also be allocated towards home care supplements for people with “moderate to severe dementia”.
Health Minister Greg Hunt vowed this new aged care funding boost would provide more services and security.
“Older Australians deserve the best care and support and our Government is delivering choice,” he added. “This funding ensures our older Australian have the support they need to live in their homes longer or provide significant support for the residential aged care sector.”
It comes after Wyatt announced that the over-use of physical and chemical restraint in aged care homes will no longer be authorised following an 18-month investigation, with regulations surrounding the issue set to be changed within weeks.
“Incidents of over use of physical and chemical restraint will not be tolerated and draft changes to regulations are expected to be released within weeks, ” Wyatt said in a statement.
The federal clampdown also follows a shocking report by the ABC’s 7.30 program recently which revealed how an elderly man with dementia had been left strapped to a chair for 14 hours in a single day.
Terry Reeves’ concerned daughter Michelle McCulla contacted the public service broadcaster after discovering that her 72-year-old dad was regularly strapped to his chair at a nursing home in Sydney’s west.
“They said that he had gotten aggressive with another male nurse,” she told the ABC. “By being aggressive he was yelling and they felt the need that they had to then restrain him in his chair. He was left in a room by himself, tied into a chair.”
Wyatt added that the government’s new Aged Care Quality Standards – which will come into full force on July 1 – will also lay out best-practice care to minimise the use of chemical and physical restraint.
“Managing and minimising restraint is already a top priority for the Chief Clinical Adviser at the new Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission,” Wyatt said. “Our Government’s new Aged Care Quality Standards are the first upgrade of standards in 20 years”
While physical restraint will be cut back, the changes will also stipulate that use of antipsychotic medicines must be a clinical decision made by medical practitioners with the care recipient, and their carer or family involved at all times.