Senior Australians and communities in country areas will receive significant upgrades to local residential aged care homes, with $40 million in grants from the Federal Government.
According to Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Ken Wyatt, the funding will enable extensions, refurbishments and improvements at 117 homes, under the Aged Care Regional, Rural and Remote Infrastructure Grants scheme.
Successful local organisations will receive the funding early this year, following an open and competitive funding round which closed in October 2018.
As part of our Governments $5 billion aged care funding boost, announced in the 2018-19 Budget, this aged care infrastructure funding is dedicated to improving the quality and accessibility of aged care services in regional, rural and remote Australia, Mr Wyatt said.
It will provide individual services with grants of up to $500,000 to support better and more extensive services and ensure senior Australians living outside our large cities can receive quality care as close as possible to home.
Local projects funded include kitchen, bathroom and bedroom renovations and extensions, new activity and barbecue areas, clinic construction, staff accommodation upgrades and expansions, new solar power systems, and security and fire protection improvements.
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I have been impressed by the significant interest from regional aged care providers and their dedication to supporting senior Australians in the bush, Mr Wyatt said.
He said that regional, rural and remote aged care services face different challenges their capital city counterparts.
These include higher operating costs, difficulties attracting and retaining professional staff and financial challenges associated with sparse populations and geographical isolation.
The $40 million grant funding will boost the productivity and sustainability of local aged care services, which play a critical role in community cohesion.
These aged care homes not only provide vital services, they help maintain the economic and social viability of regional centres, Mr Wyatt said.
The sector will receive a further boost of $60 million via the residential aged care capital grants through the Aged Care Approvals Round (ACAR) expected to be announced by April 2019.
This combined investment will see a total of $100 million to support small infrastructure upgrades and major capital investment, in areas where it is most needed, he said.
In addition, $101.9 million has been earmarked to lift the annual Viability Supplement by 30 per cent, paid to eligible regional aged care providers due to higher costs in rural areas.