(Australian Associated Press)
A $100 million funding boost will help thousands of older Australians “age with dignity” with support for their meals and home maintenance.
The two-year funding deal will go to providers of the $5.5 billion Commonwealth Home Support Programme to improve five vital services hundreds of thousands of older Australians rely on.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt announced the new money in Western Australia on Tuesday.
“This is about allowing senior Australians to age with dignity, with choice, with independence and to be able to live the life they want to live surrounded by their friends, family and community and to stay connected,” Mr Morrison told reporters.
“It’s the entry level level of support for senior Australians that deals with everything from meals to transport, domestic help, help around the house and the garden.”
The growth areas to be funded include household jobs like cleaning and laundry, general repairs and care of homes and gardens, and modifications such as alarms, ramps and support rails.
It also includes more transport for shopping and appointments and meals at home and in community centres.
“Right across Australia I have seen outstanding delivery by organisations by people who care,” Mr Wyatt said.
“Who take that extra time to provide the level of support to enable people to live at home much longer.”
About 800,000 Australians get home support, with many of them also on the waiting list for Home Care Packages, which fund elderly people to live at home rather than go into residential care.
Labor says the latest funding will not deliver one new home care package for the 121,000 people on the waiting list.
The aged-care lobby says at least 30,000 new packages are needed to keep up with growing demand from elderly people who want to stay in their homes and not go into residential care.
Mr Morrison said the government had announced 20,000 new home care packages in the most recent budget updates, an 80 per cent increase over four years.
“We know demand is increasing and it’s an area of priority. These things have to be paid for,” he said.
Getting home support funding does not affect a person’s position on the waiting list for a full home care package.
The first new payments to providers will begin in January.
The government recently announced a royal commission into aged care.