Aged-care funding needs a change of Tune 

23 September 2016

The APA says current model needs major reform to promote effective patient care


Incoming Head of the Aged Care Legislated Review Mr David Tune must begin a comprehensive overhaul of the Aged Care Funding Instrument (ACFI), the Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) cautioned today.

APA Chair of Gerontology Rik Dawson said the current funding model was broken. It allocated payments to ineffective practices, such as transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), while ignoring rehabilitation or injury-prevention for older people living in nursing homes. 

“Limits on funding mechanisms give residential aged-care providers incentives to stop offering already-scarce restorative therapies. The recent reforms are a missed opportunity to introduce evidence-based treatments” Mr Dawson said.  

"We know strengthening exercises and falls-prevention strategies can extend the independence of older people. Preventing injury and promoting physical activity are proven treatments to improve their quality of life. These treatments are blocked under the Government's recent reforms. 

"Currently, residents at aged-care facilities can only choose between massage and TENS treatments from a physiotherapist, no matter what their condition. Right now, we believe it pays more for providers to keep their clients dependent,” he said. 

Mr Dawson said as incoming head of the review, Mr Tune had a critical opportunity to cement the place of evidence-based therapy through appropriate funding models to promote the well-being of older Australians. 

“Australia is entering an ‘era of ageing’ – estimates suggest the population of those aged 75 years and older is set to double over the next 20 years. 

Cutting back on services like restorative physiotherapy – treatments that help our mothers and fathers, and soon enough even ourselves, to walk, eat or bathe independently for a few extra years – is disappointing," Mr Dawson said. 

“Should further limits and lower payment thresholds be introduced, this will ultimately cost jobs in the health and aged-care services. We’ve seen the early market signals over the past week, since the Budget Savings (Omnibus) Bill 2016 was passed, and we fear more jobs may go,” he said. 

Mr Dawson said the APA welcomes the chance to work with the Review team to co-create a more workable funding model that places the wellbeing of older people at its centre. 

“Mr Tune’s appointment is timely because it presents the Government with an opportunity to work with healthcare organisations, like the APA, to investigate alternative funding models which are sustainable, while offering older Australians effective, high-quality treatments,” he said.



For further information, please contact: Lingam Palam, APA Communications
T 0405 953 853  E


About the Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA)

The APA is the peak body representing the interests of Australian physiotherapists and their patients. It is a national organisation with state and territory branches and specialty subgroups. The APA represents more than 23,000 members who conduct more than 23 million consultations each year. To find a physiotherapist in your area, visit