The emerging crunch in Australia's aged-care system has been a significant concern for years. As the population ages, the number of elderly Australians needing care is expected to increase rapidly. According to the 2007 intergenerational report, the number of people aged 85 and older was projected to rise from 534,000 in 2021 to 1.28 million by 2041. This projection is now becoming a reality, putting immense pressure on the country's aged-care system.
Aged care is a massive expenditure for the Australian government, with a budget of $27 billion allocated for in-home and residential care this financial year. The figure is expected to rise to almost $35 billion by 2025-26, with most care workers set to receive a 15% pay increase from July. However, more than additional government funding alone will be needed to solve the aged-care sector challenges.
Innovative, cost-effective policy initiatives are necessary to address the sector's challenges. There needs to be a judicious element of user pays to relieve the pressure on taxpayers, allowing more aged-care residents to enjoy their final years in greater comfort. The disability and mental health sectors have recognised the benefits of community-based living and support for decades, as opposed to institutional settings. Therefore, diverse types of accommodation, such as mobile and manufactured homes, rental retirement villages, and small communal and home-share arrangements, are needed to provide alternative options for the frail aged population.
The final report of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, published in March 2021, revealed that 1.3 million Australians received aged-care services in 2018-19. This included over 840,000 people on the Commonwealth Home Support Program, over 240,000 in residential aged care, and another 133,000 receiving home-care packages. There is a need to explore more diverse types of accommodation to allow older people to live where they want and how they want.
It is worth noting that the ageing of the nation's baby boomers, the first of whom turn 80 in 2026, could see demand for high-end aged care surge by 9% annually for the next two decades. While most people would like to stay home, some need residential care within a few years. New models of care that cater to their expectations must be created. Let's work together to give our older generation the care they deserve.
As Australia's population ages, the aged-care system's challenges will increase. Innovative, cost-effective policy initiatives, an element of user-pays, and exploring more diverse types of accommodation are crucial to meet the demands of the ageing population.
If you're considering starting an aged care business, HCPA will guide and assist you navigates the Aged Care sphere. Contact us here to learn how we can help you make a difference in the lives of older Australians.