Federal Government commits to 'significant' $662 million aged care funding boost
10 February 2019
The Federal Government will provide an additional $662 million in funding for aged care and senior Australians in what it is calling a "significant investment".
The bulk of the money will go towards two key initiatives, with more than $280 million committed for 10,000 additional home care packages and $320 million allocated for aged care providers to help increase support.
Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt said the investment aims to speed up access to home care and reduce the number of people on waitlists.
"Home care packages and an increase to residential care means we're giving people options to the services they access," Mr Wyatt said.
Greater funds will also be allocated for home care supplements for people with moderate to severe dementia.
Mr Wyatt explained the $35.7 million for dementia will also have a focus on caring for veterans with mental health conditions related to their service.
"That support eases the pressure on families," he said.
"The combination of all those services means that we can look after those with the need, so it's a significant boost."
The Minister said the initiatives are on top of future investments into the aged care sector.
The funds will be spread over a range of aged care facilities, including care for veterans with mental health conditions
Aged Care minister Ken Wyatt said this plan is "outside of what will come from the Royal Commission"
The Government's statement referenced the national aged care quality indicator program, which it says monitors the use of physical restraint
"This work is outside of what will come out of the Royal Commission. It's part of our roadmap and is part of our total commitment to resolve issues and challenges," he said.
The announcement follows a series of commitments for seniors and health care made by Mr Wyatt and Health Minister Greg Hunt in Western Australia last week.
The accompanying statement from Mr Wyatt and Mr Hunt made reference to the use of chemical and physical restraints in aged-care facilities.
It said the current mandatory national aged care quality indicator program already includes an indicator on the use of physical restraints, which was in line with the Government's commitment to better regulation.
Royal Commission into Aged Care Safety and Quality Opens
18 January 2019
The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety has opened with a preliminary hearing in which Commissioners emphasised that, "The hallmark of a civilised society is how it treats its most vulnerable ..."
Commissioner the Honourable Richard Tracey AM RFD QC and Commissioner Ms Lynelle Briggs AO made a statement to the hearing at Roma Mitchell Commonwealth Law Courts in Adelaide on Friday, 18 January 2019.
Senior Counsel Assisting the Royal Commission, Mr Peter Gray QC, and Dr Tim McEvoy QC, also made brief statements ahead of public hearings commencing in Adelaide on 11 February, 2019.
The Royal Commission will visit all capital cities as well as regional centres and is due to produce an interim report not later than 31 October 2019 and a final report not later than 30 April 2020.
Commissioner Briggs said the Royal Commission had begun the process of gathering and analysing information and had held meetings with consumer groups, key government agencies and other stakeholders. Information requests had been made to approved aged care providers and public submissions were also being made via the Commission's website.
"The likely major themes to be addressed include: quality and safety, access and inclusion, young people with disability, interfaces and transitions, future challenges and opportunities, and how to deliver quality in a sustainable way. We will look at the expectations of Australians for quality and safe care, how and where it should be provided and the workforce implications, amongst other things," Commissioner Briggs said.
A significant focus of the Commission's work will be understanding how the aged care system currently works. This would involve some site visits and community engagement involving roundtable discussions.
"We will look to the future, canvassing demographic pressures, community expectations, technology, risks and opportunities. We will consider aged people's position in society, what they want and how they are perceived. We will give voice to them," Commissioner Briggs said.
Commissioner Tracey said the Royal Commission was a once in a lifetime opportunity to come together as a nation to consider how we can create a better system of care for elderly Australians.
"The hallmark of a civilised society is how it treats its most vulnerable people, and our elderly are often amongst our most physically, emotionally, and financially vulnerable. Frail and elderly members of our community deserve to, and should, be looked after in the best possible way, and we intend to do our best to see that it happens," Commissioner Tracey said.
Addressing concerns raised with the Royal Commission, Commissioner Tracey warned that it would be against the law for employers to take action against an employee or former employee who wanted to give evidence.
"We would be gravely concerned if any operators in the aged care sector or government bodies were to instruct their staff not to talk to the Royal Commission or to withhold information," Commissioner Tracey said.
"Anyone who wishes to make a submission or tell us their story and who has a concern about doing so should tell a Commission officer of their concerns before making the submission or telling their story so that appropriate steps can be taken."
Counsel Assisting said the Royal Commission has the potential to lead to real improvements in the lives of older Australians.
On Christmas Eve the online submissions form on the website began receiving public submissions. To date, over 300 submission have been received.
Counsel Assisting said the Commissioners have a number of compulsory powers that can use used for gathering information.
"The power to issue notices requiring a person to give information or a statement in writing is a new power. This Commission will be the first Royal Commission to exercise this power. We expect this power will be exercised in preparation for public hearings," Counsel Assisting said.
The first public hearing will be held on 11 February 2019 in Adelaide, continuing into the week of 18 February.
At these hearings evidence will be presented will involve key features of the aged care quality, safety and complaints system, and how that system works in practice on a general level. There will also be information about the challenges faced by the aged care system.
This will include accounts from consumer advocacy bodies, health care provider peak bodies, national aged care provider peak bodies and regulators. Importantly, the Commission also expects to be able to call evidence from people receiving care and their families.
A transcript of the statements by the Commissioner and Counsel Assisting are available on the transcript page.
Hydration Tips For Seniors
As we get older our body’s ability to conserve water diminishes. And this makes it difficult for us to adapt to temperature changes. In summer and in winter!
Medications can also affect a senior’s ability to retain fluids. Laxatives, diuretics, antihistamines, antipsychotics and corticosteroids can all cause us to go to the loo more often. This depletes our fluids and electrolytes. And alcohol doesn’t help.
Also, our sense of thirst also reduces with age. So, by the time you feel thirsty, your body’s essential fluids could already be really low. And if someone has issues with incontinence or has dementia, they may also limit or forget to take in fluids.
Signs of dehydration
Early signs of dehydration are headaches; muscle cramps; constipation; lethargy; sleepiness; and dry mouth. When it’s severe, it shows up as dry skin that stays folded when pinched; irritability, dizziness or confusion. There’s also little or no urine output. And if there is, it’s dark or amber-coloured.
Someone who’s dehydrated in a major way can experience low blood pressure, rapid breathing and a fast heartbeat. They can also have a weak pulse, and cold hands and feet. This can progress to seizures as a result of electrolyte imbalance, reduced volume of blood in the body, kidney failure, coma and even death.
While staying hydrated can be helped by drinking more, some foods also have a high water content. Here are some tips for increasing fluid intake:
try flavoured waters if plain water isn’t palatable
give half-water half-juice or fruit-infused water as an alternative
vegetable broth is a soothing, savoury source of fluid and electrolytes in winter
try different serving temperatures - for hot and cold drinks
milkshakes, smoothies and ice-blocks have plenty of liquid
use a brightly coloured cup for someone with poor vision or one with two handles, a no-spill lid, built-in straw or that has ergonomic features
an old fashioned soda fountain glass with a piece of fresh fruit on the rim could be an enticing presentation
Raw fruit and veggies pack a punch as far as fluids go. A small plate of celery sticks, cucumber slices and cherry tomatoes served with hummus makes a fluid-filled snack. Watermelon, oranges, grapes, blueberries and apples also contain high percentages of water.
Source: Aging Care