The first 350 of 775 new restorative care places announced in last year’s budget will be allocated by July, the federal government says, with the remainder to come online in the next financial year.

Ken Wyatt

The government pledged in the 2018 federal budget to expand access to restorative care interventions thought the Short Term Restorative Care Program, which is part of its flexible aged care arrangements.

The $58 million-a-year allocation would help more than 5,000 older Australians remain at home, Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt said on Thursday.

The additional places will take the number of Australians receiving restorative care to 8,125 and increase care places from 475 to 1,250.

Mr Wyatt said the government remained on track to fund 2,000 places by 2021.

Focus on reablement

The short-term programs, based around the goals of reablement and delaying admission into residential care, are delivered over eight weeks and tailored for the individual.

They can include strengthening exercises, physiotherapy, occupational therapy and home and furniture modification, provided in an individual’s home, aged care home or a combination of both.

“This is a life-changing program, giving senior Australians more choices for longer, better and happier lives,” Mr Wyatt said.

“Short-term restorative care boosts health, gets people up and about and improves their wellbeing and outlook on life.

“While this new allocation will boost restorative care in our major cities, there is also a strong emphasis on increasing the number of places across regional, rural and remote centres.”

The allocation of the 775 restorative places is part of the 2018-19 ACAR round, which includes 13,500 residential places.

Good step forward, but more needed, say peaks

Industry peak ACSA said the Short Term Restorative Care Program was still relatively small and new, but provided a good model and should be increased as the number of older people needing support continued to grow.

“Restorative Care plays an important role in the aged care mix, providing short term intensive support when older people need help to stay home and get back on their feet,” CEO Pat Sparrow said in a statement.

“Increasing options and different ways of supporting people to continue to live independently is vital as that is what the majority of people want.”

The extra places have also been welcomed by COTA as a way of preventing premature admission into residential facilities.

“The restorative care program assists older Australians access personalised care and support services and has been designed to help people stay at home and in their community despite frailty and disability, by making a concentrated package of supports available to restore their ability to maintain their independence,” CEO Ian Yates said.

But he said the government needed to establish a single, integrated home care program, rather than a range of “silos” under various government programs with overlapping rules, assessments and funding arrangements.

“The fundamental challenge in aged care policy is coming up with ways to ensure older Australians maintain autonomy and have control over their own lives – this announcement today hits the nail on the head and should serve as a guide for all future aged care reform,” he said.

Information about the 2018−19 ACAR short-term restorative care outcomes, including details of the successful approved providers, is available here.

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