A spokesperson for Member for Fisher Mal Brough says the decision to remove the payments has not been taken lightly.
A spokesperson for Member for Fisher Mal Brough says the decision to remove the payments has not been taken lightly. Iain Curry

Federal Government budget cut to hit the elderly

FEDERAL Government cuts to dementia carer supplement payments have left one Sunshine Coast organisation with a $280,000 black hole.

Sundale Ltd's CEO Glenn Bunney said the funding slash was a blow to the delivery of aged care.

"It's $280k gone. It's just disappeared in vapour," Mr Bunney said.

"It (Dementia and Severe Behaviours Supplement) was worth about $280,000 a year to us.

"About 10% of our resident population are affected."

With more than 500 residents and half-a-dozen facilities across the Coast, the huge financial blow would have an impact on the quality of care patients in the affected category could expect to receive.

"In an industry where over 70% of your income goes on staff wages, that's clearly an area you've got to look at," Mr Bunney said.

"But we're not. We're looking at other options.

"It's either staffing or activities ... that you have to take away to make up for what's been lost."

The cut was implemented from July 31, after the budget for the supplements blew out almost tenfold to $110 million due to the number of recipients soaring from an estimated 2000 to 25,000 in March this year, the ABC reported in late June.

A spokesperson for Federal Member for Fisher Mal Brough said the decision to remove the payments had been forced by the poor delivery of the scheme.

"This was not a decision the government took lightly, and we recognise that this decision will have an impact on many aged-care providers," the spokesperson said.

The explanation was cold comfort for Mr Bunney, as he and his staff tried to retain quality of service on an even tighter budget.

"They've (aged-care staff) got less resources available to them to do their jobs, basically," he said. "Because it was an additional subsidy, it meant we could do more. It was a top-up of funding.

"Aged care, in government at the moment, is being treated with short-termism."

Mr Brough said the supplements were never designed to be the sole funding avenue for dementia-

sufferer support.

"The supplement was not paid directly to people with dementia or their carers if they live at home, but to residential aged-care providers," he said.

Alzheimer's Australia's Chris Hatherly said he was disappointed at the termination of the supplement.

"People with dementia should not suffer because of a Government expenditure blow-out," he said.

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