“More beds without qualified nurses, proper consideration of skills mix and staffing levels will simply escalate these problems.”
Ms Chaperon says the funding package shows the Opposition does not understand the complexities of aged care.
“This is a simplistic attempt to throw money at the aged care sector without considering all of the health and care needs of residents. That includes the need for skills mix and staffing levels for nurses,” she said.
“This shows Mr Abbott does not have an understanding of the aged care industry in Australia.”
Freeing up the bed placements, which have already been allocated, was part of Mr Abbott’s $935 million aged care package that also includes:
- 21 days of convalescence care for around 20,000 eligible patients at a cost of $300 million
- $14 million for pet therapy programs
- $12 million to promote wellbeing and funding for companionship programs
- a reduction in red tape for aged care providers
Ms Chaperon says the Opposition’s decision to allocate money for pet therapy programs while ignoring nursing staff is deeply concerning.
“Tony Abbott has pledged $14 million for pet therapy and yet has not mentioned nursing care,” she said.
“This is deeply concerning and indicative of a party who do not understand the basics of aged care and the vital role of nurses in the sector, to the residents and to their families.”
‘No new beds’
Her sentiments were echoed by Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon, who says the policy will not result in any more beds being made available.
Ms Roxon says Mr Abbott is funding the announcement by channelling money away from other vital aged care services.
“There are no new aged care beds and there is no new money,” she said.
“He has come clean with the public and explained that that he is going to use money set aside by our government to provide extra GP services to those in residential care to help fund this idea.
“When you’re talking about residents in aged care they are vulnerable, they do often have complex health needs.
“And to not be providing or indeed be cutting medical and nursing services to aged care, is really not going to improve the situation to the many thousands of Australians who are in aged care.”
She says Mr Abbott is trying to capitalise on the Government’s achievements in the health sector.
“He wants to get credit for steps our government is already taking to deliver better services to the community,” she said.
“Since we’ve come to office there are 10,000 additional aged care beds that have become operational.
“Mr Abbott is simply wanting to count beds that are already targeted to come on line. So this is not new funding, this is Mr Abbott pretending he can deliver beds in a different way.”
But the Opposition Leader says the Coalition will be better able to target health funding where it is needed most.
“We are investing the same as the Government proposes to invest, but we think this will produce more concrete results,” he said.
“We think it will guarantee that you will actually get 3,000 additional beds, it will guarantee that we will actually get 20,000 people assisted as they are moving from hospital back to their homes.
“So this is about practical action. It’s real action.”