At last the election campaign has discovered the needs and concerns of seniors.
It has been an exciting week with Labor announcing dental care for Age Pensioners and Commonwealth Seniors Health Card holders will be covered by Medicare under a Labor government.
A few days later the Morrison Government announced a significant investment into better aged care and training for age care providers.
We are, of course, most welcoming of these announcements but our politicians continue to ignore another significant health policy deficiency, the chronic lack of home care packages.
Demand for level 3 and 4 home care packages has way outstripped supply.
We want the next government to triple the number of level 3 and 4 home care packages, to cut the 100,000 waiting queue and the distressing reality of so many frail older people dying while waiting.
Labor’s $2.4 billion Pensioner Dental Plan will allow eligible people to access $1,000 worth of dental services every two years.
Within this cap, Medicare will cover a wide range of dental services such as examinations, x-rays, cleaning, fluoride treatment, fissure sealants, fillings, root canals, extractions, periodontal treatment and dentures.
Along with the Benevolent Society we have been calling for this initiative as part of the joint campaign to Fix Pension Poverty.
The announcement is a just recognition of seniors' health issues in a campaign that seemed to have ignored the needs of older people. Now it’s up to the Coalition to at least match Labor's commitment.
Chief Advocate Ian Henschke outlined our key election concerns, including our call for dental funding, during an interview with 2GB's Rev. Bill Crews three weeks prior to the dental announcement.
This messaging was also part of our election video, as seen below.
$34 million will be provided to establish a new Aged Care Workforce Research Centre, which will examine new ways to deliver care for older Australians and training and education for aged care providers, drawing on the world’s best practice.
$10 million will go to developing a Seniors Connected Program to counter the silent curse of loneliness.
National Seniors Chief Advocate Ian Henschke said it was hoped the Aged Care Workforce Research Centre and skills program would prioritise the need for all age care workers to have basic dementia training.
The Coalition media statement says “the program will work with local community groups, including schools and sporting clubs, as well as with grassroots organisations dedicated to supporting older Australians.”
This is good news for seniors and their families.
We hope the research initiative will lead to something we’ve long been campaigning for – mandatory dementia training for staff who have contact with dementia patients.
It is unacceptable that there is no mandatory training now. Trained staff would better manage dementia symptoms, help ease the high incidence of conflict in residential care, and assist in reducing physical and chemical restraints.