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April 4, 2012

Call for Dignity in Aged Care (Tas. AUSTRALIA)

 By SALLY GLAETZER
 April 03, 2012

ELDERLY Tasmanians are getting sick, breaking bones and dying early because they cannot access the care they need and the crisis will deepen over the coming decade, a coalition of aged care groups says.
Statistics released by the National Aged Care Alliance yesterday paint a bleak picture of the future for older Australians, while a Federal Government report has found Hobart is not doing enough to plan for its "rapidly" ageing population.
It comes as the Federal Government prepares to announce the biggest reforms for the aged care sector in years, including a user-pays system for wealthier nursing home residents.
The Aged Care Alliance, which is made up of 28 aged-care organisations, has found the number of aged-care support packages needed in Tasmania will more than double over the next 15 years.
Aged and Community Services Tasmania chief executive Darren Mathewson said about 6000 Tasmanians were either in aged- care facilities or receiving some level of federal government-subsidised care at home, while hundreds of others were on waiting lists.
The number of beds and support packages needed would top more than 12,000 by 2027 if aged-care providers were to maintain current inadequate levels of care, Mr Mathewson said.
He said the hundreds of elderly Tasmanians at home who were unable to access a community-care package were more likely to get sick or have a fall and end up in hospital.
"Hospitals are the worst place for old people," Mr Mathewson said.
In last year's allocation round for aged-care packages Tasmania received no additional funding for at-home care.
It did receive funding for up to 646 extra aged-care beds, but only 92 of those were taken up by nursing homes because the funding did not cover the actual cost of establishing the beds, Mr Mathewson said.
Meanwhile, a new COAG Reform Council report has found that while "Hobart is one of the most rapidly ageing of Australian capital cities", the State Government had "no specific policies, initiatives or actions to address demographic change".
According to the Aged Care Alliance, Tasmania has almost 55,000 people over the age of 70, and that number is expected to reach more than 101,000 by 2027.
As pressure mounts, the Gillard Government is preparing to announce reforms to the aged-care sector that will see thousands of wealthier older people contributing to the cost of nursing home accommodation.
The user-pays scheme is in line with other budget reforms to crack down on so-called middle class welfare.
It would require those with substantial assets to pay part of their aged-care accommodation costs either through a bond or regular payments.
Spending on community care, which includes funding for nurses and other carers to visit homes, would be boosted from the current 25,000 places under the reforms.
The changes are in line with recommendations from the Productivity Commission, but spending is likely to be deferred to 2013 and beyond as the Federal Government aims for a budget surplus.

 SOURCE:      The Mercury,au
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