Revelations of increasing financial stress suffered by aged care services in Sunraysia and Broken Hill highlight the need for urgent additional funding to help sustain the quality residential care of thousands of older people across regional Australia.

A survey of five not-for-profit aged care services in the Sunraysia region – caring for 384 people – shows that, collectively, they expect to lose more than $1.18 million this financial year. This is due to the subsidies provided by Government not keeping pace with the rising costs of delivering care.

Leading Age Services Australia (LASA), the voice of aged care, said the alarming losses reflected the grim reality of an independent study showing 65 per cent of regional residential care facilities were operating at a loss, potentially impacting their capacity to meet the needs of those they care.

“Supporting older Australians to continue living in the areas they know and love is vital for their welfare and important for local communities,” said LASA CEO Sean Rooney.

“However, with growing financial distress it is increasingly difficult to sustain these essential services.”

Major aged care and retirement living provider Southern Cross Care (Broken Hill) – which also operates a facility in the Sunraysia area – just announced a significant restructure, administration redundancies and the sale of an asset, due to financial pressures and mounting debt.

Recent analysis by Chartered Accountants StewartBrown shows the annual average net loss for rural and remote aged care homes rose by $1,391 per bed, to $3,963, with almost two thirds of regional homes losing money in the first quarter of this financial year.

“Many of these facilities have long and cherished traditions of care and are part of the local heritage,” Mr Rooney said.

“Their role in communities and regional economies is fundamental, with care workforces of more than 600 in Sunraysia and Broken Hill.

“Regional residential care is facing particular pressures including providing for the increasing needs of residents, the higher price of food and maintenance and the growing gap between subsidies and running costs.”

Mr Rooney encouraged providers under stress to access the Government’s $50 million aged care Business Improvement Fund (BIF), with applications now open.

“At the same time, LASA continues to appeal to the Federal Government to roll out an additional $1.3 billion in operational funding over the next 18 months,” he said.

“Aged care reform can’t wait until the Royal Commission’s final November report, we have to reduce the risk of missed care and service closures now.”

Download the StewartBrown report here

About Leading Age Services Australia (LASA)

LASA is the national association for all providers of age services across residential care, home care and retirement living/seniors housing. Our purpose is to enable high performing, respected, and sustainable age services that support older Australians to age well by providing care, support and accommodation with quality, safety and compassion – always.

We represent providers of age services of all types and sizes located across Australia’s metropolitan, regional and rural areas. Consistent with the overall industry profile, 56% of our Members are not-for-profit providers, 36% are for-profit providers and 8% are government providers.

Our diverse and representative membership gives LASA the ability to speak with credibility and authority on issues of importance to older Australians and the age services industry.

Contact: Nick Way 0419 835 449 nickw@lasa.asn.au