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Thursday, June 30, 2022

Campaign kicks off to ‘stop the death of allied health in aged care’

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Concerned members of the public, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, and others who work in nursing homes are joining together in a grassroots campaign to stop the death of allied health in aged care.

The campaign is called the Death of Aged Care and its website went live on September 10.

The campaign is non-political and non-industry specific and is open to anyone who wants to support better care for our elders in nursing homes.

It calls on Australians to ask the Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, and their local member to ensure that allied health is put back into the new aged care funding model (AN-ACC).

“Everyone who has parents or loved ones in aged care, or even worries about what will happen when they get older, should be concerned about this change,” Alwyn Blayse, Senior Physiotherapist and campaign organiser, said.

“The Federal Government is removing specific funding for allied health in aged care.

“This means that instead of hands-on treatment for pain, our elders will be given more pain medication – which leads to more side effects.

“Older people will fall more and end up in hospital more.

“This is the crisis point. If the Government doesn’t amend the AN-ACC to include allied health, we will see a reduced standard of living in aged care and, we fear, more deaths.”

The Morrison Government only recently confirmed that the AN-ACC, which has a proposed start date of October 1, 2022, will remove funding for allied health and that nursing homes will have to fund this themselves.

The Federal Government is removing specific funding for allied health in aged care. This means that instead of hands-on treatment for pain, our elders will be given more pain medication – which leads to more side effects. Older people will fall more and end up in hospital more.

Alwyn Blayse, Senior Physiotherapist and campaign organiser

Financial group Stewart Brown reported in March 2021 that 54 per cent of nursing homes operated at a loss.

The campaign says homes in financial distress are unlikely to fund allied health from their own budgets when they have to prioritise many other care needs.

Not having allied health in nursing homes will also have a considerable burden on the overall health system.

Research has shown that physiotherapy can reduce falls – the number one cause of preventable death in older people – by 55 per cent.

The recent royal commission found that the current eight minutes a day of allied health per resident was inadequate, and in recommendation 38 called for more access to allied health.

The Government partially accepted this recommendation in their response to the royal commission agreeing that older people should have more access to allied health.

However, in the 2021 budget the Government only allowed $27 million for funding in the new AN-ACC funding model to improve access to allied health.

This is equivalent to 10 seconds a resident per a day, which is far less allied health than older residents receive now, and much less than they need.

The AN-ACC also mandates nursing hours but does not mandate for allied health.

The campaign website has an easy link ‘take action’ button for members of the public to express their concerns in an email directly to the minister. 

It also has a countdown timer from now until October 1, 2022, the first day that allied health will not be funded.

“This is a change that will affect everyone. We need to stop this before it’s too late,” Blayse said.

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