The dementia and severe behaviours supplement of $16 per day for eligible dementia patients in residential care homes will be cut from 1 August 2014 due to Federal Government budgetary pressures, after only one year.
The initial estimates of how many people would qualify for the supplement and therefore the total cost of the payment were grossly underestimated. The original estimate was 2,000 qualifying residents at a cost of $11.7 million. As of March 2014, there were 25,000 who qualified, costing the Federal Government $110 million.
The payment was designed to encourage residential care providers to provide more spaces for dementia sufferers with severe behavioural problems, the most challenging residents to provide care to. However, when implemented there was no test to determine whether care providers who applied for the supplement could actually provide the appropriate level of this difficult type of care.
John Kelly, CEO of Aged and Community Services Australia, says the decision to cut the funding is a travesty. It is estimated there are 320,000 Australians suffering from dementia now with this number expected to rise to 400,000 by 2021. Aged and Community Services Australia sees the care of dementia sufferers as a priority health need for the country now.
The Government says it is committed to supporting dementia sufferers but there has been no announcement about future plans to replace the supplement to date.