Innovation and disruption need to underpin Budget funding success

Published on 26 May 2023 (Last updated on 2 June 2023)

Innovation, new technologies and disrupting the norm can help improve aged care in Australia. [Source: Shutterstock]

When the 2023 Federal Budget was released, it was warmly welcomed by the aged care sector as it offers crucial support for an industry working hard to shed negative imagery while keeping afloat financially. 

The big news out of the Budget was the $11.3 billion to fully fund the incoming 15% aged care pay rise. It’s the kind of money that takes the pressure off many providers who would otherwise be in a tough position to make ends meet if they had to self-fund the additional wages.

It’s great news for providers, staff and care recipients alike. Jonathan Gavshon, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Group Homes Australia, said the Government’s commitment deservedly recognised those working in the heart of the sector.

“These team members make large sacrifices and often travel significant distances to provide care to all Australians,” he said. “We believe that making them feel valued, providing them with a career path and giving them learning and development opportunities are all critical to ensuring that the sector thrives and offers the very best care that it can.”

“Investment in our team, the workforce providing care to Australians is critical and so we fully support the aged care pay rise.”

Jonathan Gavshon, CEO of Group Homes Australia. [Source: Supplied]

Current Government investment should provide a strong foundation for the future, too. By 2066, the projected over-65 demographic will be 21-23% of the total population while estimates suggest residential aged care numbers could grow by as much as 75% by 2040. There will be an increased burden on aged care over the next 30-40 years and Mr Gavshon expressed the importance of consistent Government funding for care industries. 

“A Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety report from 2019 found that more than half of all Australian aged care residents (57.6%) are in homes with unacceptable levels of staffing,” Mr Gavshon said. “Investing in a better system now will make it more robust for the future, so we can give older Australians the high-level care and support they need.”

He also said the pay rise will also complement other Group Homes Australia initiatives to motivate and attract workers who deliver highly specialised dementia care. He hopes to see widespread growth in the sector as a whole.

A step in the right direction

While the Budget was well received, many aged care leaders agree it’s just one step in the right direction. Transformation won’t happen overnight and Mr Gavshon encouraged continued investment in innovative practices and models of care.

“Our model of care for people living with dementia is unique and we believe models such as ours need to be considered as funding and sector changes continue to get introduced. Consumers want choice and flexibility,” he said.

“Real change is only possible through disruption and innovation. And for the Australian aged care industry to improve, society also needs to change how they talk about, and include people living with dementia. 70% of people with dementia currently live in the community, so we hope to see more initiatives around education and innovation in the aged care space.”

In addition, he said consumers have to be involved in more conversations about aged care as there needs to be a widespread understanding that good care costs money. Mr Gavshon’s comments echoed those of Grant Corderoy of StewartBrown, who has previously said consumers with the means should pay more for aged care services.

Medicare: The more support, the better

Increased funding to Medicare – $5.7 billion – has received praise across the care sector as it allows ageing Australians to maintain quality access to local healthcare services, including General Practitioners. People with dementia should be among those to benefit the most, according to Mr Gavshon, as he called for increased education and GP support for people following a dementia diagnosis. 

“Unlike other chronic illnesses or diseases, where you receive comprehensive referrals and resources after a diagnosis, people diagnosed with dementia often only return to the GP when their condition has declined. What about in between?” he said.

“For too long the narrative around dementia has been a negative one, and we really want to flip that.”

“Thanks to investments like this, the support will be available, but it’s all about getting it to the people who need it and helping them see that they can still have hope and relevance in their lives even as they navigate a chronic disease.”

dementia care
aged care
group homes australia
Federal budget
specialist dementia facilities
jonathan gavshon