As the latest edition of Dementia News hits your inbox, we are digesting the 2016-2017 Federal Budget announcement and the implications for people with dementia and their carers.
There were no new major policies or programs to support people with dementia. It is disappointing that at a time when dementia is the second leading cause of death, there is still no co-ordinated funded national strategy to address dementia.
However, it has encouraged us at Dementia Australia to continue advocating that much harder to ensure we achieve better support for people living with dementia, especially as the upcoming election draws near.
The Budget included a significant cut to funding for aged care providers ($1.2 billion) which is in response to projections of unsustainable expenditure in aged care.
On a positive note, the budget includes continued funding for dementia flexible funds, initiatives to boost funding for a MyAgedCare contact centre, support for regional aged care facilities and unannounced compliance visits - all things that our consumers have indicated are important.
Outlined below are the major Budget measures that have a potential impact on the care and support for people with dementia in the aged care, health and disability sectors.
MyAgedCare contact centre - Consumer Access ($136.6m over 4 years)
This funding is dedicated to supporting the operation of the one-stop-shop approach to aged care. Consumers have repeatedly raised concerns about their interactions with MyAgedCare service and have indicated that it is not working well for people with dementia. Dementia Australia is hopeful that the implementation of this initiative will lead to better services and support for older Australians.
Funding for Regional Aged Care Facilities ($102.3 million over four years)
The Government will provide $102.3 million over four years to support regional aged care facilities. This will be done through improving the aged care viability supplement by utilising an updated remoteness classification system. This is an important initiative to support people living in regional areas.
The Government is achieving efficiencies of $182.2 million over three years from the Health Flexible Funds. It has been confirmed that the Dementia Flexible Fund is not part of this savings measure and will continue to be supported at current levels.
Continued unannounced compliance site visits ($10.1m)
Unannounced visits are an important component of generating community confidence that residential aged care services are safe and compliant with the accreditation framework.
Trial of Health Care Homes
As previously announced, the Government will trial the Health Care Homes model of coordinated primary health care ($21.3 million over four years). This funding will support coordinated care, management and support to approximately 65,000 complex patients.
Medicare Benefits Schedule
The Government will extend the pause on indexations of Medicare Benefits Schedule fees for all services until 30 June 2020.
The Government will provide up to $2.9 billion in forward estimates in additional funding to states and territories for public hospitals.
Continued Support for NDIS
The good news with regards to disability is that the Government has committed to continuing to support the NDIS and has established an NDIS Savings Fund to assist in supporting this measure.
Eligibility reviews for Disability Support Pension (DSP)
Those in receipt of the Disability Support Pension will face their eligibility reviewed in order to assess their capacity to work that is expected to save $62 million. Given the already complex process of applying for the DSP there is some concern that this review process will place further burden on people living with a disability including those with younger onset dementia.
We are looking forward to an extremely busy and robust election period, which will give Dementia Australia the opportunity to continue to advocate to all sides of politics for better care, support and quality of life for people with dementia and their carers. With a focus across the whole dementia spectrum from prevention, diagnosis, care, treatment and research ultimately one day for a cure.