WITH a new aged care package called Living Longer Living Better, Federal Minister for Ageing Mark Butler is setting the bar very high.
More than 100 local residents packed out Sinnamon Village aged care facility last week, to listen to the minister discuss his plans for a better aged care system.
Joined by Federal Member for Oxley Bernie Ripoll, Mr Butler led a community forum to discuss the Government's $3.7 billion package.
Mr Butler said the reforms, announced in April, provided a strong focus on helping people stay in their own home as they got older.
"We're redesigning an aged care system designed a quarter of a century ago,"
"It is now ill-equipped to meet the needs of retiring baby boomers and their parents who are living longer and healthier lives."
Mr Butler said the reforms were the result of community consultations held with more than 4000 carers, consumers and industry stakeholders.
Some of the package's key aspects included an increase in residential aged care places, more funding for dementia care and $1.2 billion towards improving the aged care workforce.
The forum ended with a question and answer session to allow locals to express any aged care issues with the minister.
Questions covered issues including the right to die with dignity, better wages for nursing aids and carers and the closing of nursing homes.
Among the residents who voiced their opinions was Sherwood pensioner Alice Erickson whose husband has required professional aged care after being diagnosed with Alzheimer's.
Mrs Erickson said through her experience with her husband, she had become aware that changes needed to be made to better assist aged care nurses and carers.
"Even though my husband has received wonderful care during the past four years, the ratio of nursing staff seems to be outweighed by its patients," she said.
"Carers and aged care nurses are paid a pittance in comparison to hospital staff, yet have just as much specialised training."
Mr Butler said the government recognised one of the major constraints to growing the aged care system to meet the needs of older Australians was workforce shortages.
"Which is why we're providing $1.2 billion over five years to tackle critical shortages in the aged care workforce," he said.