A major Albury aged care conference spanning three states will focus on reform and delivering the best care for older Australians, with a special forum on preparing for catastrophic emergencies like the recent bushfire crisis.

LASA is hosting the two-day Tri State Conference, with hundreds of aged care representatives attending from Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania.

The special Learnings from a Catastrophic Emergency forum will see a broad panel of care professionals and emergency experts who helped people through the firestorms tell their stories and contribute to better planning to help ensure future survival.

“As the fires raged, I have heard so many stories of how the dedication and compassion of care staff prevented loss of life in aged care and retirement villages,” said LASA CEO Sean Rooney.

“Not only do our hearts go out to those affected but our hearts swell with pride for the capacity of our amazing care workforce to go above and beyond, to ensure residents’ safety.

“Often, they chose to forsake protection of their own homes and properties to stay by the sides of those in their care.”

The conference will also ramp up the LASA funding push to sustain care services for vulnerable older people, especially in regional areas, where a recent independent report shows up to two-thirds of age care providers are losing money.

“This is totally unsustainable and puts the care of thousands of residents at risk,” Mr Rooney said.

“There are regional age care homes in every State that are losing hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.

“I know of a quality, community based home in regional Victoria which is losing almost $20,000 a month and another in regional New South Wales losing $50,000 a month.

“A recent LASA review showed almost 200 residential aged care services across the nation, providing care for up to 50,000 people, are at unacceptably high levels of financial distress.

“LASA is advocating for an additional $1.3 billion in operational funding over the next 18 months to avoid missed care and prevent more aged care closures that will devastate older Australians, their families and communities.”

The conference theme is Ageing Well From Policy to Practice and there will also be a big emphasis on innovation, technology and maintaining quality care, with the continuing Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.

“The Royal Commission and its final report in November is a once-in-a-generation catalyst for positive change but it is our responsibility to show aged care leadership now,” said Mr Rooney.

“We all have an opportunity to influence the present and the future of ageing well.

“This conference is critical in considering how providers, staff and communities can drive the transformation of age services to benefit older Australians.”

The Tri State Conference runs on 24-25 February at the Albury Convention Centre.

The Learnings from a Catastrophic Emergency forum will be held Tuesday afternoon, with the LASA Excellence In Age Services Awards presented at a gala event Tuesday evening.

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