Lack of government support putting older Australians at risk

Release date: 10 Jan 2020

The peak body for non-profit aged care providers Aged and Community Services (ACSA) has called for urgent support as new analysis shows the financial state of the sector is continuing to deteriorate.

The recent StewartBrown September 2019 Aged Care Financial Performance Survey paints a bleak picture of the sector with residential care struggling and home care providers being forced to cut costs to remain viable.

The report confirmed costs are continuing to rise much faster than revenue with providers having to find $8.25 per residential care bed per day to ensure residents receive everyday living services.

ACSA CEO Patricia Sparrow said the rising costs meant a staggering 51 per cent of aged care homes recorded an operating loss with both regional and metropolitan areas being affected.

“More than half of aged care homes are struggling to remain viable – that’s something we need to fix urgently if we want to avoid closures and maintain proper aged care services,” said Ms Sparrow.

While the situation for home care providers was slightly better this was achieved through cost cutting, which can ultimately jeopardise service quality.  

The worrying figures come just weeks after the Home Care Packages Data Report for 1 July 2019 to 30 September 2019 reported that tens of thousands of people continue to wait for the home care they need.

“The report revealed 112,237 people are still on the waiting list for their approved home care package and while this is a welcome slight drop on the previous quarter, it is still simply not good enough” Ms Sparrow said.

“We know the knock-on effect of waiting for packages is older Australians going into hospital or residential care earlier and putting more avoidable pressure on those systems.”

The StewartBrown analysis also found that despite this unmet demand unspent funds continue to rise each quarter and there is now a total amount of close to $800 million in unspent funds sitting idle.

“The measure currently being considered by Government to manage unspent funds could help meet demand and reduce unacceptable waiting times by providing additional high-level packages to older Australians. 

If changes are made, there must be a guarantee that no-one will miss out on the services they need and in addition, a review of why these funds continue to build is required.”

All of these numbers are worrying, but not surprising and show why ACSA has long been calling for more government support and funding.

“ACSA, and the sector generally, has been highlighting these trends and calling on Government to provide more support so that older people all over Australia can continue to receive the care they need when they need it.

“If we don’t take action now, people will miss out on what they need because providers have been forced to close or reduce services to operate with funding that doesn’t recognise the true costs of quality care”.

ACSA's analysis of the latest Home Care Packages Program Data Report can be viewed here.

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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