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Federal Budget 2022-23: We unpack the key aged care and disability support outcomes

Are you wondering how the 2022-23 Federal Budget will help you or your loved one access quality care? Or are you currently working in aged care or disability support or considering a career in the industry? Here we summarise the key aged care and disability support Budget outcomes and how they may impact you.

Aged care

The Budget is largely focused on implementing initiatives outlined in the five-year Aged Care Reform Program that the government launched last year, with a further investment of $522 million, growing the government’s total investment to $18.8 billion.

40,000 Additional Home Care Packages:

A further 40,000 Home Care Packages will be funded, enabling around 275,600 people to access a package at June 30 2023. This is around 215,000 more people than at 30 June 2013 (60,308).

A new government funded support at home program:

The government will continue to carry out research to support the design of its new Support at Home Program, rolling out July 1 2023.

This new program is in response to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety and will ‘significantly shift the quality and safety of senior Australians’ home care, resulting in improved health and wellbeing outcomes.’

The Support at Home Program will simplify senior Australians’ access to care and provide them with more personalised care plans by allowing them to choose their providers and the services they need – including allied health – and change services as their needs change.

A new regulatory framework for aged care:

A further $5.4 million will be invested in continuing to design a new regulatory framework for aged care, through consulting with peak bodies in the sector. Once final, the framework will provide regulatory guidance for the development of the Support at Home Program. It will also support the sector to ‘create a culture to continuously improve delivery of high quality and safe care for seniors’. 

Improved medication management in residential aged care:

prompting medication

$345.7 million has been allocated to improve aged care residents’ medication management and safety through developing on-site pharmacists and community pharmacy services over four years. This initiative follows a recommendation by the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.

Prestige Inhome Care COO, Thea McCroary, welcomes these reforms but is realistic about the short-term results: “While these are all positive changes that will improve the quality of care that millions of senior Australians receive, as we’ve seen since the Aged Care Reform Program launched last year, these measures may take some time for the government to achieve.

To ensure our clients’ quality of care is prioritised, we are continuing to invest in key measures at Prestige Inhome Care such as providing all clients with real-time access to view and make changes to their care plan through our MyPrestige App, investing in training our workforce on infection control measures, and training our care workers to support clients’ medication management.”

Building a ‘skilled, diverse and compassionate care and support workforce’

In line with the government’s Aged Care Workforce Action Plan, the Budget is investing a further $402.2 million in building a ‘skilled, diverse and compassionate care and support workforce’. Key initiatives include:

Growing and upskilling aged care workers:

15,000 low fee and free training places will be funded from January 2023 through the JobTrainer Program, covering both entry-level and existing aged care workers who want to upskill.

Attracting nurses to aged care:

An additional $14.9 million will be invested to ‘address barriers to clinical placements in the care and support sector’. This investment intends to attract an extra 5,250 nurses.

Workforce bonus payments:

The government’s ‘recognition of workers’ commitment to care for senior Australians during the COVID-19 pandemic’ will continue, with workers in home care and residential direct care, food or cleaning services receiving up to $800 each, based on the most hours worked within a defined four-week period.

McCroary says she tends to agree with other leaders in the industry who feel that the Budget ignores aged care wages: “Leading Age Services Australia (LASA) has gone as far as saying “It will leave our dedicated workers on the edge of poverty and many older Australians without the services they need.”

carer and client smiling

I agree that our dedicated aged care workers deserve more than bonus payments. When you consider how important their work is, the industry pay rate standard is not enough. This coupled with more Australians than ever before needing in-home support puts us – and all providers – in a critical situation. The Prestige team and I have been acutely aware of this for some time and have been actively speaking to existing staff and prospective employees to address concerns with pay, working conditions, burnout, training opportunities and employee reward and recognition.

Measures we’ve already implemented include paying for new eligible care workers’ qualifications and uniforms to support them in entering the workforce sooner, offering regular paid training opportunities to all our care workers, and payment incentives for referring eligible care workers.

The next major step to come in 2022-2033 will be a pay increase for our care workers, making us one of the highest paying providers in our market.”

Free Rapid Antigen Tests:

The government is providing free Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) to NDIS supported independent living residents and workers. This initiative is on top of NDIS participants being able to purchase RATs through their NDIS plan, and around 82% of NDIS participants being eligible for free RATs through the Concession Cardholder Scheme.

Growing and sustaining the workforce

$249.1 million will be invested in growing and sustaining the workforce. This initiative builds on existing reforms, including the NDIS National Workforce Plan 2021-2025. Key initiatives include:

Behavioural support training:

$3.5 million will be invested in behavioural support training for up to 4,000 workers who support NDIS participants with a behaviour support plan.

Do you or your loved one need a little help?

If you or your loved one in need of support and would like to discuss the different care options available to you, feel free to contact our Care Specialists team on 1300 10 30 10, or send us your query online.