The Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) calls on the Federal Government to explain why it has accepted the Royal Commission into Quality and Safety’s recommendation to fund allied health via home care packages but not in residential aged care where the most abject cases of neglect have been exposed.
“It is inexplicable that the Government has not fully accepted the Royal Commission’s recommendation to include allied health, such as physiotherapy, in residential aged care despite the Royal Commission identifying a critical lack of these essential health services,” APA President, Scott Willis said.
The Government has not announced any specific funding for essential allied health services in residential aged care, such as physiotherapy, in the Federal Budget.
The introduction of a new residential funding model is a positive step but without targeted funding for specific health services older people will continue to be at risk of not receiving the care they need.
“The Royal Commission made very clear that restorative programs and rehabilitation need to be a central focus of aged care with increased access to allied health care in both home and residential aged care. It is not clear that this Budget has delivered that,” Mr Willis said.
The APA has also called for a two-tiered residential aged care funding approach that includes a layer of funding for rehabilitation and falls prevention.
“It would be a tragedy for older people if the Government fails to address the number one cause of preventable death among older people in residential aged care – falls.
“The Government is aware of the strong evidence, backed by the Royal Commission, that physiotherapy-led mobility programs can reduce falls by 55 per cent in residential facilities,” Mr Willis said.
The APA acknowledges that the Budget has delivered substantial increased funding for the aged care sector, especially the commitment of $17.7 billion over four years for measures including additional home care packages, a new funding model, and mandated care times.
Despite the record levels of spending, the Coalition avoids making the hard policy decisions and required structural reforms in order to fix the core system failures in aged care. This includes addressing a key service gap to rectify what the Royal Commission identified as “weaknesses in the delivery of services aimed at maintaining healthy functioning, such as physiotherapy”.
The APA will also be seeking more details about the government’s response to the Royal Commission’s recommendation (25) to combine a number of funding packages, including a short-term restorative program, to create a new aged care program.
“Combining multiple programs including the short-term restorative program into a streamlined approach is a tremendous opportunity to ensure people entering aged care receive physiotherapy care as this would keep them at home longer and reduce the burden on the health system. We need further clarification about why the government has not fully accepted this,” Mr Willis said.
Scott Willis is available for further comment.
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