The Treasurer Scott Morrison handed down the 2018-2019 Federal Budget this week (on Tuesday 8th of May).

As a summary, in the midst of many reviews into aged care and much media attention throughout this financial year, the consensus is that the budget has been underwhelming from an Aged Care perspective.

The headline items noted were:

– an additional 14,000 new high level home care packages over four years from 2018-19 in addition to the 6,000 high level packages delivered in the 2017-18 MYEFO

– 13,500 residential aged care places and 775 short term restorative care places in the 2018-19 Aged Care Approvals Round will be released, with a $60.0 million capital investment to support new places

– the Government will combine the Residential Care and Home Care programs from 1 July 2018 to provide greater flexibility to respond to changes in demand for home care packages and residential aged care places

The additional high level home care packages are definitely welcome however we all know that the wait list is extensive and there is a ways to go.

My feeling is that we will be hearing more about surpluses sitting in packages and I also expect to see a tightening of regulations on how package funds are spent on equipment and modifications at some stage.

The merging of residential and home care programs into a single line item is definitely a nice piece of financial book work however it also further highlights the department’s direction for aged care – consumer directed care and continuity of aged care assessment/service/funding/regulation.

From a personal perspective I was not surprised that we did not seen any change to the Aged Care Funding Instrument (ACFI), however I think many of us still crossed our fingers anyway. Alas, we await the shift to more functional and evidence based funding whereby we can aptly provide the care our elders deserve. Though home care package funding has some issues, we are able to achieve amazing outcomes as we do not have a funding tool which dictates what interventions we may be funded for.