The Ministry of Ageing has recently released a report that the Rudd Government will invest $386 million to increase the number of services in aged care to better support older Australians.

The move is the result of too many older Australians spending too much time in a hospital.

In 2006, about 2,400 patients eligible and approved for aged care and no longer requiring hospital care were waiting in hospital beds, with 63 per cent waiting in hospital for more than 35 days.

Too many older Australians are also unnecessarily admitted to hospital when better care in the community and in aged care homes would have kept them out of hospital: it is estimated that 31 per cent of transfers from aged care homes to hospitals (about 27,000 admissions per year) could be avoided through better GP care in aged care homes.

Improving access to GP and primary health care services in aged care

To improve older Australians' access to care and help reduce avoidable hospital admissions, the Government will invest $96 million over four years to improve GP and primary care services to aged care homes.

From 1 July 2010, through the Aged Care Access Initiative, the Government will increase financial incentives for GPs providing services to aged care homes:

  • Increase the payment for GPs who provide at least 60 attendances a year to older Australians in aged care homes from $1,000 to $1,500 annually; and
  • More than double the payment to GPs who provide at least 140 attendances a year to older Australians in aged care homes from $1,500 to $3,500 a year.

This is expected to support around 105,000 additional GP services being provided to older Australians in aged care homes over the four years to 2013-14.

From 1 July 2012, the Government will provide primary health care organisations with a flexible funding pool to target gaps in primary health care for older Australians.

This is expected to result in an additional 190,000 primary health care services over two years.

Improving the viability of community care providers

The Government will invest $10 million over four years to continue and increase the viability supplement for community aged care providers in regional, rural and remote areas, providing a real increase in the supplement for these providers for the first time.

This will provide a much needed boost to community aged care services in rural and remote areas where earnings are much lower than in major cities.

Financial assistance for Long Stay Older Patients

To assist states and territories meet the cost of older Australians who have been assessed as needing aged care but cannot be discharged to an appropriate aged care service, the Government will provide an estimated $280 million in funding over four years.

States and territories will receive funding equivalent to the average aged care subsidy for people entering residential care from hospital.

Enabling care recipients to have more say in the care they receive

To enable consumers of aged care services to have greater control over their own care and to make choices about the type of services they access and the delivery of those services, the Government will make up to 1,200 Consumer Directed Care packages available over the next two years.

Consumer Directed Care has been shown to improve care recipients' quality of life, independence and satisfaction.

From 1 July 2010, 500 community care and 200 respite care packages will be released with a further 500 community care packages released in 2011-12.

Australia's aged care system provides targeted, affordable and high quality care.

The measures build on aged care reforms that will mean the Australian Government will be responsible for full funding and policy responsibility for aged care services.

They also build on the Government's existing investments in aged care which have resulted in a nearly 20 per cent increase in funding and the addition of more than 10,000 aged care places.

In building the National Health and Hospitals Network, the Government is determined to get the hospital and aged care systems working together to ensure better health and better care for older Australians.