Overview of the 2022 Budget and what it means for aged care

As part of the over $18.8 billion Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety response, the Australian Government is committing an additional $389.4 million over four years in the 2022–23 Budget towards residential aged care quality and safety. The Government’s total investment in Aged Care will climb to $129.9 billion over the next four years.

These additional measures will deliver better-coordinated care across the health system for aged care residents, and bolster the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission (the Commission) to ensure aged care services comply with Aged Care Quality Standards.

Trials of Multidisciplinary Outreach Services – $22.1 million

to share costs with states and territories for providing more comprehensive health care, through multidisciplinary care teams, to people in residential aged care

· provide hospital-led access to specialists and other health practitioners, such as allied health professionals, pharmacists, geriatricians and palliative care specialists

· facilitate an evaluation of trials to inform pricing and delivery of these services nationally in the long term.

Improved medication management

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

This measure complements ongoing improvements in residential aged care facilities (RACF) digital capabilities to support medication management services and ensure the safe use of medications.

Third-Party Quality Assessment Workforce

A further measure will extend funding for the Commission to maintain a Third Party Quality Assessment Workforce. Maintaining the Commission’s experienced external auditors will ensure services comply with the Aged Care Quality Standards.

$21.6 million will be invested in this auditor workforce to undertake 1,443 residential aged care quality audits in 2022–23, increasing quality and safety assessments.

This will provide the Commission with critical support through the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond as well as ensure that audits are sustainable, and quality of care is safeguarded.

Aged care residents experience higher hospitalisation rates and emergency department presentations than people aged 65 and over in the community.

Many of the common reasons for aged care residents’ and recipients’ hospital presentations and admissions are preventable. Improving access to specialist care, and connection between services will produce improved health outcomes for senior Australians.

Workforce bonus payments

The aged care workforce will receive up to $800 each, based on the most hours worked within a defined four week period.

The Government has committed this payment in recognition of workers’ commitment to care for senior Australians during the COVID-19 pandemic, including home care and residential direct care, food or cleaning services. This adds to previous bonus payments during COVID-19, taking the Government’s total investment to $657.5 million.

Care and support regulatory alignment

The Government is investing $10.8 million in the Cross-Agency Taskforce on Regulatory Alignment to progress alignment of regulation across the care and support sector – aged care, disability supports, and veterans’ care. The alignment will improve the quality and safety of care and support services, reduce duplication of obligations, and enable providers and workers to operate more seamlessly across the sector.

A roadmap for regulatory alignment will be developed through detailed analysis and further consultation, with early activities to include:

· improved information sharing between regulators

· opportunities for streamlined reporting processes, and

· developing options for alignment of standards and auditing or assessment.

Clinical placements

The Government is committed to growing the aged care workforce and ensuring there are pathways for clinical placements within aged care will help to ensure more skilled and dedicated workers are in the pipeline.

An additional investment of $14.9 million will address barriers to clinical placements in the care and support sector, attracting 5,250 more nurses.

RHMT training expanded

The Government is investing $14.3 million to expand the Rural Health Multidisciplinary Training (RHMT) Program to an additional five locations in the Northern Territory, Victoria, New South Wales and remote Queensland, to:

· enhance the quality of aged care services in rural and remote areas

· create opportunities for 150 nursing and allied health students, and Indigenous students to experience clinical placements in the care and support sector each year, and

· highlight the benefits of working outside metropolitan locations.

Growing the workforce through JobTrainer

An additional 15,000 low fee and free training places will be made available in aged care courses from January 2023, with a $48.5 million investment over two years as part of the JobTrainer Aged Care Boost.

These training places are in addition to the 33,800 aged care training places announced in the 2021–22 Budget.

This will provide a strong pipeline of entry-level aged care workers and enable existing aged care workers to upskill.

CME Support Program rollout

The Government will also commit $6.9 million to a staged rollout of the national Co-operative and Mutual Enterprises (CME) Support Program. CMEs are organisations that are owned and run by members, such as consumers, service providers, employees or people in the local community.

The CME Support Program will support aged care, and the broader care and support sector to:

· develop sustainable and coordinated approaches in growing a skilled workforce using a model which is likely to attract new workers to the care sector

· support the start-up of six to seven CMEs that will deliver care services in areas of need, and

· deliver up to six additional projects to help grow existing CMEs.

Source: Inside Ageing