2021 Federal Budget Analysis

ACSA welcomes the Budget delivered tonight. There are a number of positive measures that will assist the fundamental reform that is required to address the quality, safety, funding, and sustainability challenges our sector faces.

11 May 2021

The increase of funding which totals $17.7 billion over the forward estimates is a significant investment and is a positive initial acknowledgement of the size of the task ahead of us. Whilst it alone is not enough, it is a significant uplift in funding to take our sector forward.

ACSA has taken a publicly supportive approach in order to acknowledge the significant investment by government and progressive reforms it has committed to.  Many of the measures will require ongoing analysis, and there will be many questions for Government, and discussions ahead of us to endure commitments made are delivered appropriately.

We support the additional $7.5 billion being put into helping people age in their own homes, supported by an additional 80,000 additional home care packages. Much works needs to be done to address workforce to ensure the numbers and quality of staff required to support these additional packages are available. This will take time and will impact the speed at which the home care wait list can be cleared.

The move to a single care at home program is vital, and we ae pleased to see that accessibility into aged care is to be addressed, along with in-person care finder services.

A reablement and wellness approach is key to a reformed home care approach and must be funded adequately ensuring older Australians remain as independent as possible enabling them to remain living in the location of their choice.

There are a number of key outcomes noted in residential care, including:

  • Introduction of the AN-ACC funding tool in 2022;
  • A move away from ACAR – to funding being allocated to the older person; and
  • Independent pricing being addressed.

These are all important developments that ACSA supports in-principle, but we will need much more detail on how these are to be implemented and funded.

Data that is gleaned from the current Shadow Assessment process must be shared with the sector to enable providers to understand the impact of introducing AN-ACC as the new residential care funding tool.

Additionally, moving away from ACAR and providing funding to the older person needs to be carefully planned for and transitioned into.

Independent pricing (through a pricing authority) will be a positive if it accurately identifies costs and subsequently recommends pricing that ensures sector sustainability and that better addresses indexation. This independent body will need to consider the delivery of high-quality care as part of determining ‘price’.

An increase in the Basic Daily fee by $10 per resident per day is important in helping to shore-up sector viability but in and of itself won’t be enough to ensure long term viability and sustainability.

The move to requiring 200 minutes of care time per resident per day, equating to 3.3 hours per day (including 40 minutes of Registered Nurse time) needs to be worked through by the sector to determine if this is adequate to deliver quality and safe care. We are pleased to see that this additional staffing requirement has been funded by Government.

The challenge provided by requiring an RN to be present at every facility needs to be considered as this will create very real challenges for providers in rural and remote settings.

ACSA will continue to review the Budget measures to determine how adequately government has addressed the needs and challenges of regional, rural and remote providers.

We support improvements to quality, safety and governance. We cannot have the care failures of the past. Providers must have quality governance systems and be well led by appropriately skilled boards. The regulator must also be well resourced and skilled to do their job, ensuring only quality providers are accredited to deliver aged care services.

We support transparency and comparability and on this front support a more nuanced public reporting of provider performance including a star rating approach provided the information in the public realm is meaningful to consumers and allows the consumer to compare like-with- like. Transparent financial reporting is supported again so long as the data reported is meaningful to consumers.

Pillar 4 ‘Workforce’ will be key in achieving quality in aged care. Ongoing analysis is required to determine whether the workforce measures proposed by Government will meet the needs of the sector. Nearly one third of the $652 million allocated to workforce in the budget is for an independent assessment workforce, whilst this is an important component of a redesigned single aged care program it will not in itself contribute to addressing the sector’s workforce challenges.

Again, whilst additional workforce training packages are important, they are one component of what will need to be a comprehensive workforce package. Simply put we need more workers that are better paid and better trained. Further analysis of the workforce measures is required.

ACSA will continue to analyse the Budget measures over coming days and weeks and will provide further analysis to members.

Click here to download ACSA's detailed Budget analysis

Additional resources, links and information:

Q&A from ACSA Webinar - Budget Briefing, 12 May 2021
(^Please note, we will continue adding to this Q&A as more information is clarified)

Aged care reform: 5 pillars over 5 years

Respect, care, dignity. A generational plan for aged care in Australia

View the summary of aged care funding here

Download the Minister for Health and Aged Care's media release here

Download the Treasurer's speech here

You can download Securing Australia's Recovery - Federal Budget 2021-22 Overview here