LASA acknowledges the Aged Care Royal Commission’s financial hearings, which concluded with landmark propositions that LASA has long advocated for, to maintain quality care, increase staffing and maintain community confidence in aged care.

LASA CEO Sean Rooney said the Royal Commission’s Counsel Assisting, Peter Gray QC, had revealed the Aged Care Funding Instrument (ACFI) reductions by successive governments in 2012-13 and 2016-17 were simply money-saving measures.

“The capacity to provide quality care is front and centre for older people, their families aged care providers and staff,” he said.

“This was effectively ignored by governments during these major cuts, which are still crippling the system, as the cost of delivering quality care continues to rise much faster than funding indexation.

“As Counsel Assisting said, aged care providers are being squeezed and must choose between financial viability and providing the level of care that’s the minimum standard required to support their residents ‑ an impossible situation.

“During the two years following 2016, providers told us they suffered a 10 per cent or more reduction in income, while still working to maintain the care quality they are proud of.

“ACFI cuts have been exposed for what they were – governments did not want to fund the system they created and were responsible for, when it started costing more.

“In 2016, LASA put to the Commonwealth an alternative to these severe reductions that looks remarkably the same as what the Royal Commission heard the Government should have done at the time.”

LASA’s submissions to Government and long-running advocacy has argued for an independent pricing authority.

“An independent pricing authority for residential and home care will bolster confidence in communities across Australia and help support our dedicated and skilled staff, who are fundamental to quality care,” Mr Rooney said.

“It will also carefully consider the variations in support needed in regional and remote areas.

“LASA is encouraged by commentary on the glaring shortfalls in both the Home Care Package program and the Commonwealth Home Support Program, which are incredibly important to allow older people to remain in their own homes for as long as possible.”

Also welcome was the re-iteration by the Counsel Assisting of potential recommendations to provide additional, interim funding for residential care, along with Counsel Assisting’s previous calls for further supports to reduce the home care wait list.

“Because an independent pricing authority will take time to establish, it is heartening to see consideration of an extra $10 per bed per day to sustain care in the short term,” Mr Rooney said.

“LASA has already advocated to the Government for an additional one-off payment of $15 per residential place and $5 per home care client over the next six months, to help cope with the costs of protecting older Australians from COVID-19.”