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Sector warns of continuing risk of 2020 aged care emergency

Release date: 16 Dec 2019

The aged care sector warns that, with today's Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) flagging no additional direct investment for residential and home care, the risk of aged care emergencies looms large in 2020.

The Government had already announced $537 million in response to the Aged Care Royal Commission, with an additional $87 million announced today mainly covering Government administration costs.

Residential funding alarm bells are ringing:

  • An independent StewartBrown study highlights that – setting aside a one-off Government grant early this year – around half of Australia’s residential care facilities are losing money, with the figure around 70 per cent in regional areas.
  • A provider member survey in July showed up to 15 per cent of residential care providers may have to close services in 2020, if their financial situation does not improve.
  • Industry analysis of Department of Health data indicates almost 200 providers - caring for up to 50,000 older Australians – are operating at a high level of financial risk.


Further targeted investment and reforms are urgently required to help ensure residential care sustainability, so older Australians in need receive care services where and when they require them.

While the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety continues its crucial work, the sector says additional targeted transitional support is critical, to make sure seniors continue to receive adequate care, especially in regional areas.

Many providers cannot wait for the implementation of the final Aged Care Royal Commission recommendations, which will be delivered in November 2020.

Some smaller residential care providers are facing particularly steep funding challenges and cannot carry further deficits, in the hope that financial conditions will improve.

The fact is that without more assistance in the short term, some residential providers will find it almost impossible to continue delivering quality care in their communities.

On the home care front, with nearly 120,000 people yet to receive their assessed level of service – and many waiting up to two years or more for their approved Home Care Package - the aged care sector is asking to work with the Federal Government on a structured plan and more funding to reduce the queue.

Our older Australians and their loved ones need a strategy that sets a maximum wait time for people allocated care, with a measured scheme to reduce the delay.

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 who represent providers who are committed to delivering quality care and certainty of care for older Australians, their families and communities.

More action is needed 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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