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.

(ENDS)

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Aged and Community Services Australia

Spokesperson – Patricia Sparrow, CEO 0410 492 235 patricia.sparrow@acsa.asn.au

Anglicare Australia

Media contact – Maiy Azize, 0434 200 794 maiy.azize@anglicare.asn.au

Baptist Care Australia

Media contact – Nicole Hornsby 0402 893 672 nicole.hornsby@baptistcareaustralia.org.au
Catholic Health Australia

Spokesperson – Pat Garcia, CEO

Media contact – Julia Timms 0457 517 355 julia@hortonadvisory.com.au

Leading Age Services Australia

Spokesperson – Tim Hicks, Acting Chief Advocate

Media contact – David O’Sullivan 0427 138 024 davido@lasa.asn.au

Aged Care Guild

Spokesperson – Matthew Richter, CEO

Media contact – Shannon Rennie 0431 309 694 Shannon.rennie@agedcareguild.com.au

UnitingCare Australia

Spokesperson – Claerwen Little, National Director

Media contact – Tom Finnigan 0437 276 834 tomf@nat.unitingcare.org.au