2023-24 Budget Statement

We welcome the Governments continued investment in Aged Care, and ensuring a standard of care that elderly Australians deserve. 

Caring Cuisine applauds the Governments decision to increase the number of Home Care Packages available. This program has been plagued with issues since it’s inception: 18+ month long waitlists, reports of recipients dying before receiving their assessed level of support, and uncertainty about how the program functions and the fees payable by recipients packages. 

The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety was particularly scathing of the Aged Care industry, and made 148 recommendations to ensure the industry is delivering the support elderly Australians deserve. In response, the number of Home Care Packages has been increased significantly, and wait times brought down to under three months. 

However, the continued uncertainty surrounding the Support at Home program is damaging to the elderly Australians and the industry. Initially scheduled for implementation from 1 July 2023, then pushed to 1 July 2024, and now pencilled in for 1 July 2025, these delays are leaving the industry in a perpetual state of upheaval. 

At this stage, it is still unclear what the changes will be, and what impact they will have on the Charities and businesses that operate in the sector. While the delay will provide the Government additional time to ensure the program is fit for purpose, it does so by continuing the current aged care programs, which are not.

Currently, the Commonwealth Home Support Program provides support to approximately 850 000 Australians living at home. This program is insufficiently flexible for both clients and providers to deliver the standard of care that should be expected. 

Under the program, organisations are contracted by the government to provide a fixed number of services within a fixed geography.

In our case, this means that if a client requests our services from the “wrong” side of the Brisbane river, we would be unable to provide the services and receive subsidisation.

Further, the fixed number of meal “Outputs” that are funded means that organisations are unable to properly adapt to changes in demand. If the number of persons assessed as needing support increases within a region, organisations will not receive any additional funding to support these clients if it exceeds their contracted number. Similarly, even if the number of clients doesn’t increase, but the clients need increased numbers of meals each week, some of these meals would not receive the subsidy. 

Advice previously received from the Department of Health was to “Start a waitlist”. 

Caring Cuisine currently deliver 20 000 meals above our contracted levels. While there is an opportunity to increase the number of funded meals through an “Ad Hoc” funding application, this is capped at additional funding of $250 000 per annum. The Government needs to increase the total pool of available funds significantly, and increase the cap on the additional funding per organisation. 

If undertaken, this would allow organisations to be appropriately responsive to changes in demand for their services, and improve the quality and and consistency of care services. In our case, it would increase our funding by $152 231 allowing us to expand our service offering and reduce the fees paid by clients. 

Alexi Paasonen

Chief Executive Officer