Jewish Care concerned about less funds for dementia sufferers

July 3, 2014 by Ayal Tusia
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Jewish Care Victoria is struggling to come to terms with the Federal Government’s unexpected cut in vital funding for those living with dementia.

As from July 31, the Dementia and Severe Behaviours Supplement will cease completely, an arbitrary removal of critical funding for Jewish Care Victoria and other aged care organisations caring for those most vulnerable. In fact, it will now cost Jewish Care almost $200,000 of extra, specialised care and support for those clients and families living with debilitating symptoms of dementia.

Bill Appleby

Bill Appleby

CEO, Bill Appleby, finds it perplexing and an ill-considered reactionary response by Government that will adversely affect those most frail in our society.  “The entire Australian community should be outraged. This type of decision making is creating an unaffordable moral deficit in Australia, with decisions solely based on money and not the principles of a good society”, he adds.

The Government says “there was no other responsible course of action in the circumstances”.  That it was not a problem of the Government’s making, but it fell to them to address the situation. “I think we need to challenge our elected Governments to think a little harder when it comes to problem solving for those most at risk in our communities.”

“It just isn’t good enough to tell an industry – just 3 days out from the largest change to aged care legislation in a generation – that it will rip out $110 million of resource because of a budget blow out. The government needs to stop playing partisan politics when it comes to the care of the most vulnerable in Australian society.”

Jewish Care, like all other aged care providers across the country, have followed a government mandated process, made appropriate assessments and staffed services accordingly, with the absolute understanding that funding was provisioned by the Department.  Does the Government believe that the severe symptoms suffered by our residents with dementia will stop with the cessation of the supplement?

Australia’s largest peak body for age services, Leading Age Services Australia (LASA), says the cessation of this was made without industry consultation and is a huge setback to the provision of essential services to those living with dementia. The Supplement, introduced in August 2013, equates to $5,840 pa per resident, with over 25,400 people receiving it as at March 2014.

LASA’s CEO, Patrick Reid, says that at no stage were their Committee consulted on the cessation of the funding.  This absence of industry advice and discussion shows complete lack of oversight by government and leaves the industry with no confidence.

Mr Appleby emphasises that regardless of this government’s abandonment of the most vulnerable, Jewish Care will continue to answer the needs of our senior citizens in our community.  Such funding cuts means that more strain is placed on the shoulders of valued donors to help Jewish Care continue to support those most in need.

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