Budget aged care funding must be tied to residents’ care

02 April 2019

The country’s largest union, the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF), says the Morrison Government must guarantee that any new funding for aged care in tonight’s Budget, is transparent and accountable and tied to ensuring the provision of safe, best practice care for every elderly Australian.

In its pre-Budget Submission, the ANMF says 2018 “proved to be another year of progressively disturbing revelations of poor care for our elderly because of the problems in the aged care sector.”

ANMF Federal Secretary, Annie Butler, said instances of inadequate, substandard and missed care episodes “are not isolated, exceptional or occasional, they are systemic, widespread and even the norm” in nursing homes.

“The problems in aged care are well-known and well-documented, as we’ve heard in evidence presented to the Royal Commission so far, problems that are now a matter of national concern,” Ms Butler said.

“Our research and evidence have shown that chronic understaffing in aged care homes continues to be a key contributor in the neglect and abuse of elderly residents, because without legislated minimum staffing requirements to mandate minimum numbers and type of nursing and care staff, providers are able to employ a decreasing number of nurses, despite growing numbers of residents with complex care needs.”

Last year, the ANMF-commissioned a Report prepared by the Tax Justice Network – Australia, Tax avoidance by for-profit aged care companies: profit shifting on public funds, which showed that the top six for profit providers received $2.17 Billion in government subsidies, but paid little, or no tax, at a time when the number of care hours for residents has been slashed to dangerously low levels.

“As the report found, the large, for-profit providers are using complex corporate structures and other loopholes to maximise their profits and pay little or no tax, whilst taking advantage of the Government’s generous, taxpayer-funded subsidies,” Ms Butler explained.

“It’s concerning that currently, funding for aged care isn’t tied to ensuring safe, quality care for residents. That’s why the ANMF is calling on the Government to ensure any additional funding for aged care in the Budget is transparent and accountable. Providers should only receive taxpayer funding if they can prove it will be spent on the care of elderly nursing home residents, not boosting their bottom-line.”

In its pre-Budget Submission, the ANMF’s key recommendations include:
Introduce legislative changes that ensure mandatory minimum staffing levels and hours of care for all nursing home residents;
Establish an appropriate education and training framework to support the development of skills and workforce numbers needed to achieve minimum staffing requirements, in collaboration with the Aged Services Industry Reference Committee;
Implementation of a licensing scheme for aged care workers to ensure that the best workforce is available and adequately trained;
Determine and fund staged staffing increases required in nursing homes, commencing 1 July 2019;
Fund wage increases for all aged care workers to assist with recruitment and retention of quality workers.

“Older Australians don’t deserve the pain and suffering that many of them are currently experiencing because of the flaws in the aged care system. They deserve affordable, accessible, best-outcome care, provided by the right numbers of highly-trained nurses and qualified care staff,” Ms Butler added.

Authorised by Annie Butler, ANMF Federal Secretary. 1/365 Queen St, Melbourne.
The ANMF, with over 275,000 members, is the industrial and professional voice for nurses, midwives and assistants in nursing in Australia.
Media contact: Richard Lenarduzzi on 0411 254390

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