Aged care sector in national plea to Federal Government for care certainty

Release date: 15 Dec 2019

On the eve of the Federal Government's Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO), aged care residents, seniors on home care package wait lists, their families, carers and providers are speaking out in a national plea for immediate action and transitional funding support during the Aged Care Royal Commission.

Provider representatives acknowledge the neglect identified in the Royal Commission’s Interim Report and understand the need to meet the expectations of our communities.

Many smaller and locally run facilities, in particular, are facing major challenges. Compounding this, these care homes are often the major – if not the largest - employers in their towns.

However, with many residential aged care homes incurring unsustainable losses and almost 120,000 senior Australians still waiting for urgent home care services, there are grave fears for certainty of care.

Aged care operators, recipients, families and staff are pleading with the Federal Government for help, supported by peak body and provider organisations Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA), Anglicare Australia, Baptist Care Australia, Catholic Health Australia, Leading Age Services Australia (LASA), Aged Care Guild and UnitingCare Australia.

Due to the parlous financial situation of many providers, investment into the aged care sector is dropping and without this critical investment there is an increasing danger that care will not be available in the future when and where senior Australians need it.

MYEFO is shaping up as a tipping point to help alleviate the community predicament, with some operators saying they will have to make decisions on the future of particular residential care homes before next May’s 2020 Federal Budget.

From now, it’s believed there will be a two to three year horizon for full implementation of Aged Care Royal Commission recommendations and changes to the current funding model. The latest data tells the story of the difficulties the sector is facing:

  • A provider member survey in July 2019 showed up to 15 per cent of providers could be forced to close services during the next year, if their financial situation does not improve.
  • The latest StewartBrown study shows that, aside from a one-off Government grant early this year, approximately half of the nation’s residential care facilities are losing money, climbing to around 70 per cent in rural areas.
  • Recent industry analysis of Department of Health data warns that almost 200 providers - caring for up to 50,000 older Australians – are operating at a high level of financial risk.


The group therefore reiterates its call for MYEFO and post-MYEFO action on:

Residential aged care and workforce:
Urgent funding to guarantee that the basic human needs of nearly 200,000 senior Australians in residential aged care today are fully met, noting the rising cost of delivering care across Australia.

Workforce is the backbone of residential aged care, accounting for 70 per cent of total aged care expenses. This additional funding will allow us to employ more workers and to support those we already have so that we can deliver the quality of care we believe is required and that the Australian community rightly expects.

Home Care packages:
Australia still has around 120,000 people waiting for homecare packages in the community. To ensure senior Australians in the community get the care they need, a detailed plan to release and fund the additional packages required to reduce wait times must be delivered by Government.

Regional, Rural and Remote services:
The Government must immediately embed community infrastructure strategies in National Drought Response Plans to reduce the aged care and health service disadvantage experienced by these regions.

Additional supplementation for these services is also critical given that excluding a one-off grant, more than 50 per cent of providers operated at a loss in the last financial year, and this figure rises to over 70 per cent in rural and remote areas.

As the peak body representing church, charitable and community-based organisations providing accommodation and care services to older people, people with a disability and their carers, ACSA can be contacted for comment on issues affecting the industry.

Areas ACSA may provide media commentary on include:  

  • Aged care reforms
  • Residential aged care
  • Home care
  • Independent and retirement living
  • Housing for older Australians
  • Palliative care
  • The aged care workforce in Australia

 

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