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Steps in the right direction for seniors to age in place

A record increase of 23,000 home care packages have been announced in the 2020-21 Federal Budget, offering older Australians the support they need to live in their houses longer.

The $1.6 billion investment, which builds on the 6105 packages ($325.7 million) announced in July, will see essential care received at home under reduced wait times.

The announcement answered a Council of the Ageing (COTA) campaign which stressed that most Australians did not want to live in a nursing home or wait 18 months to receive at-home care.

The funding was also part of a plethora of other projects for seniors, including more than $150 million to better protect Australians in aged care, establish an independent assessment service and restructure residential aged care.

COTA Chief Executive Ian Yates welcomed the measures and said older Australians would be pleased with the federal commitments.

“The new home care packages are a substantial step forward and to be applauded, as are the supporters of our Safer at Home campaign who lobbied for this,” he said.

The moves were also supported by JMW Real Estate Property Consultant Rob Farris, who said he expected to see more Western Australian seniors choosing to stay in their homes rather than moving into an aged care facility.

“The government is certainly heading the right way with this decision,” he said.

“I’m 70 myself and I know most people would prefer to stay in their own homes.

“Downsizing is popular too, but I think with this decision, you might find more people staying in their homes.

“Or, interestingly enough, you might find more older Australians participating in the rental market.

“Already there’s quite a few seniors who choose to keep their homes and rent them out.”

Also included in the Federal Government’s home care packages is funding to modify a home to better suit people with limitations.

Mr Farris, who has more than 40 years selling experience, said he had sold homes with helpful fit-outs such as wheelchair ramps, but at present accessible homes were not a hot commodity in the property market.

“You actually find that elderly people pull out ramps and things like that when selling a home,” he said. “At this stage, it’s not too strong of a selling point.”

According to the Department of Communities, there are about 478,187 older Australians aged 60 and over in WA, most of whom live in the Perth, Peel and South West regions.

About 57 per cent of older Australians own their home, 16 per cent hold mortgages, 13 per cent rent, five per cent live in self-contained retirement villages and only two per cent live in nursing homes.

At the time of the last Census, there had already been a substantial shift to Western Australians choosing in-home care arrangements instead of moving into residential aged care facilities.

The 2020-21 Federal Budget follows a significant increase in funding for seniors to age in place, including 60,308 home care packages delivered in 2013, to 155,625 packages delivered in 2020 and an estimated 185,597 delivered by June 2021.

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