Along with the record allocation, worth $907 million a year, the Government has also committed to $60 million in capital works investment to finance construction of new and extended aged care homes.
The 2018-19 allocation is an increase of more than 36 percent on the ACAR places in 2016-17, with the number of rural allocations doubling to 5,000.
Older Australians who are financially or socially challenged, veterans, or from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander or LGBTI communities are among those who will have priority access to more than 23 per cent of the new places.
Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt says the Government’s focus is on supporting older Australians in regional areas and those with complex needs.
“Allocating these new places to regional areas is part of our strategy to combat the challenges faced by these communities,” Minister Wyatt says.
“Every one of these new places will mean senior Australians can age with more confidence, knowing they have future care options in locations as close as possible to their families and communities, whether in the city or the country.
The $60 million capital works investment will provide 28 grants to establish, extend and refurbish new and existing homes in priority areas of rural and regional Australia.
Projects will include renovations, extensions, improved kitchens, gardens and recreation facilities, solar power additions and better security and fire protection systems.
Projects funded include:
More than $4.7 million to be invested in Shepparton, Victoria, to build a 20-bed residential aged care facility exclusively for disadvantaged older Australians who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.
More than $5.9 million to extend and upgrade two facilities in Queensland to better support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander seniors in need of dedicated, culturally appropriate aged care.
$3 million in Nuriootpa, South Australia, to expand an existing facility including dedicated respite rooms and refurbishment of the Memory Support Unit.
Aged & Community Services Australia (ACSA) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Pat Sparrow welcomes the announcement, saying it reflects the growing number of older Australians who need access to aged care.
“It’s great to see a renewed focus on disadvantaged communities, such as Indigenous and LGBTI Australians, and regional Australia in today’s announcement. It is important to recognise that equal access to aged care is not a given with many in the community struggling to find the care they need,” she says.
“The thousands of new places and capital investment is welcome and needed, but a funding model rethink will be necessary to ensure sustainability into the next decade and beyond.”
Ms Sparrow says the funding doesn’t resolve the “underlying issue” of direct care costs “outstripping” current funding for those with increasingly complex needs.
Leading Aged Services Australia (LASA) CEO Sean Rooney says it is important to ensure the new places are adequately funded.
“The most recent data by industry analysts StewartBrown suggests that more than 40 percent of residential aged care facilities are making a loss, and this rises to more than 60 percent in regional areas,” he says.
“The additional $320 million announced by the Government in February will help mitigate the financial pressures facing providers, but it is unlikely to even cover the anticipated increase in wage costs.
“There is no funding certainty for providers in the long-term.”
Information about the 2018-19 Aged Care Approvals Round outcomes, including details of successful providers, is available at the Department of Health's website.