Budget 2024- 25: Investing In Quality Aged Care

Department of Health

The Albanese Labor Government has worked hard to improve the quality of life for older Australians. We have put nurses back into nursing homes, given residents more time with their carers, lifted wages in the sector and improved transparency and accountability.

Since the October 2022-23 Budget, total investment in aged care has increased by 30 per cent. This includes an $11.3 billion investment to deliver the largest one-off increase to aged care wages in history, with more increases in future.

The investments in the 2024-25 Budget continue to strengthen aged care services and create stronger links between aged care and the rest of the health system to deliver real benefits to older Australians.

Older Australians in residential aged care now receive an additional 3.6 million minutes of care every single day. There are more 4 and 5 star homes, and fewer 1 and 2 star homes.

We will enhance the capability of the regulator to ensure older Australians are in safe and quality aged care, upgrade technology systems to make the new Aged Care Act possible, and provide an additional 24,100 Home Care Packages to shorten average wait times.

The new rights-based Aged Care Act is a once-in-a-generation reform that will put older people at the centre of the aged care system and ensure those who access Government-funded aged care services are treated with respect and have the quality of life they deserve. It will also support the Government’s response to the Aged Care Taskforce. Consultation is continuing on the details of the Act and the Taskforce response.

Reducing wait lists for older Australians wanting support to age at home:

The Albanese Government is investing $531.4 million to provide an extra 24,100 Home Care Packages in 2024-25, so more Australians than ever before have the option to remain in the home and the community they love.

Reinforcing the foundations that underpin quality care:

The Albanese Government is reinforcing the foundations that underpin high quality and safe care, by enhancing the capability of the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission to ensure older Australians are protected, programs to attract and retain a dedicated workforce, and more than a $1 billion dollar investment in the technology infrastructure that will make the new Aged Care Act possible and ensure current systems are maintained:

  • $111.0 million to enhance the capability of the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission, in response to the recommendations of the Independent Capability Review, as well as to implement the regulatory framework that will underpin the new Aged Care Act.
  • $88.4 million to continue to attract and retain the aged care workforce, including to provide better staffing solutions.
  • $1.4 billion to upgrade the technology systems and digital infrastructure across the sector. This includes funding to sustain current systems and to support the implementation of the new Aged Care Act.

Last year, we invested $11.3 billion to deliver fairer wages for aged care workers in support of the Fair Work Commission’s 15 per cent wage increase decision. In March this year, the Fair Work Commission made a further work value decision to increase award wages for many aged care workers. We anticipate the final decision around mid-year.

Stronger connections for quality care and cheaper medicines:

The Albanese Government is delivering a stronger Medicare for older Australians, by knitting together parts of the health system that have too often lacked integration and ensuring better connections from residential aged care into public hospitals and primary care settings, like general practice or community pharmacy.

As part of the Strengthening Medicare package, older Australians will get the health care and support they need in a safe and comfortable environment when it isn’t necessary for them to stay in hospital. Using hospital outreach services in the community and more virtual care services, older patients will avoid unnecessary hospital admissions and be safely discharged sooner when they are admitted.

Older people with complex care needs will be supported to move out of hospital into a residential aged care home and more short-term care will be available for older people to help them recover after a hospital stay.

$882.2 million to ensure that older Australians get the medical support they need.

As part of the $1.2 billion Strengthening Medicare package in the 2024-25 Budget, states and territories will be funded to upskill the residential aged care workforce, deliver hospital outreach services in the community, provide virtual care services, and deliver complex care for older people outside of the hospital. $190 million will help older Australians recover from a hospital stay with short-term care through the extended Transition Care Programme.

The measures in the 2024-25 Budget build on previous Albanese Government investments to strengthen the connection between residential aged care and the wider health system.

From 1 August 2024, people in residential aged care will be more likely to receive quality and continuous care from a general practitioner, with GPs and practices eligible to receive quarterly incentive payments, on top of Medicare rebates, to manage the health of their MyMedicare registered residents.

Older Australians are some of the highest users of PBS medicines and so have seen some of the largest benefits from the Albanese Government’s commitment to cheaper medicines. In 2022-23, over 60 per cent of total PBS expenditure was towards older Australians, while through 2023, close to 240,000 older Australians in residential aged care received more than 10.7 million PBS subsidised prescriptions.

  • $0.9 million so aged care residents have more options to receive a free vaccination. Community pharmacists are now paid the same fee a doctor gets to administer free vaccines to residents in aged care under the National Immunisation Program.
  • $318 million over five years to strengthen pharmacy and keep medicines cheaper, with up to a five-year freeze to the cost of PBS prescriptions for pensioners and Commonwealth Seniors Health Cardholders, so medicines stay cheaper, instead of rising each year with inflation, benefitting people in residential aged care homes, in particular.

Funding committed in the 2023-24 Budget will help to ensure that aged care residents are on the safest and most appropriate medication, with funding for residential aged care homes to engage a pharmacist to provide on-site advice, conduct medication reviews, and better understand individual resident needs.

Better dementia care will be delivered through a $101.4 million investment in services and support for people living with complex care needs, as well as readying the health system for new diagnosis and treatment advances.

The investments in the 2024-25 Budget reinforce the foundations and connections that underpin quality aged care, with more Home Care Packages, more workforce support, a regulator with enhanced capabilities, and stronger links between aged care and the rest of the health system.

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