Aged care residents and families upset with planned government funding cuts


Margaret Campbell (93) and daughter Julie Bennetts
Margaret Campbell (93) and daughter Julie Bennetts

THE families of aged care residents say they are fearful for their loved ones’ futures due to government funding cuts to those with complex health issues.

High complex care relates to older Australians who can have multiple diseases of ageing and the need for additional levels of nursing care and from January 1 2017, some people classified as having complex health needs will be downgraded to having medium to low care needs.

Julie Bennetts, whose 92-year-old mother Margaret Campbell lives at Wilson’s Castledaire residence, said it was wrong to penalise those who have devoted their entire lives to the country through hard work, the raising of families, fighting in wars and paying taxes.

She said her mother would be affected by the government cuts.

“My mother is in chronic pain and needs continual pain management. We don’t know what her care needs for the future…This is a very drastic cut in funding and it’s wrong to take so much from those who often don’t or can’t speak up for themselves,” she said.

“My mother was such a diligent hard worker, especially during the war and it isn’t right to penalise people like her.

“She is loving and caring and always thinks of others first. There needs to be a voice for the frail aged and this is definitely not the right way to treat them.”

Mrs Campbell, a former wireless operator for the Royal Australian Air Force suffers from chronic back pain and receives morphine throughout the day and night to help control it.

She said she was admitted to hospital every three months for injections into her lower back to help ease the pain.

“I feel I have served my country willingly and I do not like or agree with these cuts. We deserve better,” she said.

“I don’t want to see the quality of care deteriorate but this is what I fear will happen; why does the government want to take from people who have given so much?”

Doctor Don Prendergast, who works for the Catholic Homes run service, said families were already paying high pharmaceutical bills and new government cuts would make them “totally unserviceable”.

“It’s a very unreasonable burden to place on the families,” he said.

“We are talking about extraordinary amounts of money and the government should help foot the bill of those elderly people who have paid taxes all their lives; not simply shift the cost on to their relatives.”

Health Minister Sussan Ley said if re-elected the Coalition would inject $5 billion over four years into aged care to $21.6 billion.

She said further assessment into funding would continue.

“This is because the residential aged care budget is due to blowout by a further $3.8 billion over the next four years without action to address inconsistencies in the way claims are currently made,” Ms Ley said.

“It is really important to remember funding for someone assessed as needing high complex health care remains the same. The changes we have proposed only apply to new residents or those needing a re-appraisal.”

She said the Coalition’s priority in the past year had been to implement new reforms to make medicines cheaper by as much as $20 per script and listing $3 billion worth of new medicines.

“We also know around 70% of pharmacists are passing on the Coalition’s $1 discount on the PBS co-payment in some form, meaning many pensioners are paying as little as $5.20 per script,” she said.

She said medicine costs would fall further if the Coalition were re-elected.

An Australia-wide campaign titled Fight For Aged Care urges Australians to go to Fight for Aged Care or to send a letter to their local MP to give a voice to those who are most vulnerable in our community.