Aged care chaos

Joint media release with the Hon. Shayne Neumann, Shadow Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Shadow Minister for Ageing, Member for Blair.

Australia’s aged care reforms are in chaos, following an eleventh hour back flip from the Abbott Government.

Assistant Minister for Social Services, Mitch Fifield announced he would not be implementing a nationally consistent pricing structure for home and community services for older Australians until 2018.

This follows the shambolic draft fees proposal that caused anxiety and confusion for volunteer organisations such as Meals and Wheels, while making older Australians fearful they could no longer afford the services that help them to live in their own homes.

“The anxiety and uncertainty in the sector and the wider community were entirely avoidable,” Mr Neumann said.

“Tony Abbott should take responsibility after dumping the $14 billion a year Ageing portfolio from Cabinet onto an Assistant Minister, also charged with overseeing the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

“This lack of leadership is risking Labor’s Living Longer Living Better (LLLB) aged care reforms, legislated with bipartisan support in 2013, following extensive consultation with the sector and the community.

“The reforms are not the problem; the Abbott Government’s lack of oversight and failure to implement the reforms in a timely manner are the problem.”

Labor acknowledges that the CHSP service providers will welcome the extension of funding until 2018.

“The Assistant Minister has been forced to extend funding for home and community service providers at the last minute, in spite of months of assurances the reforms were all on track,” Senator Helen Polley said.

“If Senator Fifield cannot manage the CHSP reforms, how can we trust him with the changes to home care packages he announced in the Budget last month?

“The ageing of our population, the alarming growth in dementia and significant shortage in the aged care and services workforce cannot continue to be ignored by the Abbott Government.

“It is clear that Tony Abbott has no vision for the future of older Australians tomorrow or into the future.”

Senator Fifield has overseen a number of chaotic, reactive and often ideologically driven decisions, including:

  • Axing the $17 a day Dementia and Severe Behaviour Supplement paid to residential aged care providers with no consultation or warning
  • Announcing “flying squads” to deal with residents with severe behaviours, with no evidence or trialling of the program
  • Asking tenderers for the “flying squads” to come up with a model for how they might work
  • Axing the $1.2 billion Aged Care Workforce Supplement to address serious issues in the sector and promising to develop a workforce strategy, which the sector is still waiting for
  • Cutting $20 million from the Dementia and Aged Care Services fund for innovative aged care services including dementia care and risk reduction
  • Abandoning the Younger Onset Dementia Key Workers Program