While we’re eagerly anticipating the release of the Productivity Commission’s Caring for Older Australians final report, the Gillard Government has already begun rolling out programs aimed to improve conditions for Australia’s aged care residents.
At the start of the month, Minister for Mental Health and Ageing, Mark Butler, announced 700 new Consumer Directed Care packages which includes over $15 million in funding. Each package is designed by the care recipient or their carer to ensure it is specifically tailored to the recipient to assist with day to day living such as domestic assistance, meal preparation, personal care, nursing and in-home respite.
The packages include 500 low care, high care and dementia packages and 200 consumer-directed respite care packages which will be delivered via local aged care providers and Commonwealth Respite and Carelink Centres. Out of the 700 packages, 109 have been allocated to Victoria.
The Government is also providing $40 million to continue funding to over 140 Day Therapy Centres in 2011-2012, providing a range of services including physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy and podiatry to older people living in the community and to residents of aged care homes.
Improving access to translation and interpreter services for older people and aged care residents was initially recommended in the Productivity Commission’s draft report, but it seems the Government is one step ahead in this regard with Mr Butler announcing $2.2 million in funding to provide translation services and on-site interpreters to aged care residents.
Mr Butler said the new service will include on-site visits and telephone interpreting services and that services will be available around the clock every day of the week. The Department of Immigration and Citizenship’s Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS National) will provide the translation and interpreter services.
Before elected into government last year, Julia Gillard announced that aged care reform would be a second term focus. After just one term in government, it seems the Gillard Government is moving in the right direction and we can only hope that once the Productivity Commission’s final report is released, the Government will continue to act to ensure Australia’s ageing population is given more choice in accessing care and improved services.