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Respite review raises calls for more funding

New research has formed the backbone of a submission made by a leading aged care provider to the Aged Care Financing Authority (ACFA) on the topic of respite, and the lack of it for older Australians and their carers.

Respite, and the lack of it for older Australians and their carers is a hot topic at the moment (Source: Shutterstock)
Respite, and the lack of it for older Australians and their carers is a hot topic at the moment (Source: Shutterstock)

The submission by HammondCare, made as part of the ACFA’s ongoing review of respite care and funding arrangements as tasked by Federal Minister for Aged Care Ken Wyatt, reflects on the providers own research findings as well as research conducted by Carers Australia.

It is this research that has formed the basis of HammondCare’s key submission statement that “new investment in overnight, small cottage style respite would support older people to stay at home longer and avoid premature entry into residential aged care”.

HammondCare at Home General Manager David Martin says the HammondCare research shows that consumers who had used respite care on more than one occasion reported that the availability of cottage style respite delayed entry into permanent residential aged care by an average of about one year; while noting the Carers Australia research shows that residential respite services are not able to meet demand.

“The research shows that carers overwhelmingly support cottage respite as opposed to a bed in residential care, and although costlier to provide, it has the potential to generate system savings by delaying permanent entry into residential care,” Mr Martin explains.

He says that the HammondCare submission further explores this, stating “if the Commonwealth Government wants to support more older Australians to live at home for longer, it must act to improve access to residential respite”, while also noting that ongoing investment in other forms of community based respite, such as cottage respite, that are currently supported with grants through the Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP), is needed.

The submission also suggests that there is “significant potential” to improve consumer outcomes by investing in the cottage respite program.

“Like residential respite care, cottage respite supports carers by providing overnight care and support to older care recipients outside the person’s own home,” the submission goes on to say.

“There is also evidence to suggest that this form of respite is highly appropriate for older care recipients, particularly those living with dementia, and greatly appreciated by cares.

“An analysis shows that while cottage respite has a costlier operating model than residential respite care, respite cottages can lead to noticeable system-wide savings.

“Further investment in these services would offer thousands of consumers an alternative overnight respite option while easing the growing pressure on residential respite.

“It is only by providing a variety of respite options that carers of older Australians will truly be able to exercise choice and control.” 

Mr Martin says HammondCare submission is aiming to broaden the discussion on respite beyond residential options.

“Our experience and research shows us that cottage respite can produce excellent outcomes for consumers while providing savings to Government,” he says.

“For those reasons, we think it should be considered as part of any plans to improve respite services for older Australians and their carers.”

Submissions on the ACFA’s Respite Care Project closed on 13 April, with the reporting date for the project anticipated for 31 October 2018.

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