Elderly aged care residents will suffer without urgent funding, peak body warns

Sep 05, 2019
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A Leading Age Services Australia survey has found many facilities in the country will have to cut services in the near future if they don't receive financial assistance. Source: Getty

The county’s national peak body for aged services has called on the government to urgently assist facilities across Australia, with new data revealing they are struggling to provide adequate care to residents due to increasing financial pressure.

Leading Age Services Australia carried out a survey of its members and found a whopping four out of five aged care providers believe current financial pressures constrain their ability to deliver the care their clients and residents need and expect. Due to this, many providers have claimed they will be forced to withdraw services, cut jobs and reduce investment if no action is taken to help them financially.

With the age care sector already in the spotlight, this adds another cause for concern for families across the country whose loved ones are currently residing at a facility. With limited finances to provide the necessary support and care, LASA explained in its report that this will impact directly on older Australians and will also likely result in the withdrawal of services, job losses and further reductions of investment in services and infrastructure.

Speaking about the new data, LASA Chief Executive Officer Sean Rooney said it backs up prior research by the government’s own Aged Care Financial Authority that showed 44 per cent of residential care providers are operating at a loss and earnings per home care consumer are falling to 60 per cent.

“What this data shows is that urgent action is required to ensure high quality care and support for older Australians and to avert the risk of service failures, job losses and misses care, while the Royal Commission considers longer-term reforms,” he explained. “It’s not unreasonable to expect that Australia’s aged care system is adequately funded to be sustainable and to meet the needs of older Australians.”

Rooney added: “However, the reality is that funding of aged care has not kept pace with rising operating costs and the growing needs of older Australians.” The future is looking bleak for facilities according to the latest report with almost half claiming they have reported a loss this year and the conditions are expected to worsen.

For the March quarter of 2019, 45 per cent of organisations said they reported a loss, compared to 15 per cent who reported a comfortable surplus. Breaking responses down by service type, 56 per cent of pure residential care providers ran a loss of some form, compared to 25 per cent of pure home care providers, and 41 per cent cent of mixed service providers.

Sadly those surveyed claimed this will not improve any time soon without support from the government as the downwards spiral continues. Alarmingly 84 per cent of organisations said that over the last 12 months operating conditions have gotten much worse (51 per cent) or a little worse (33 per cent).

If conditions do not improve, 15 per cent said they would likely or very likely have to withdraw services all together, while 41 per cent said they would be forced to reduce direct care staff. Meanwhile, a shocking 52 per cent said they would have to go the path of reducing non-care direct service staff.

The new data follows calls for action from the family of an elderly dementia patient, left stranded outside a Queensland nursing home after it abruptly closed down. Michael Irvine was left devastated when he found out via social media that his beloved mum Veronica had like many other vulnerable residents been kicked out of Earle Haven Retirement Village on the Gold Coast and left outside last week with no idea what was going on.

It is understood People Care, which owns Earle Haven Retirement Village, terminated a contract with HelpStreet, a management company trusted to run the aged-care facility, over a staffing dispute. According to The AustralianPeople Care said it gave HelpStreet until August 9 to vacate the facility, but the contractor “decided to leave earlier”.

However, the residents and their family members were left in the dark about the situation with Michael explaining to A Current Affair that he never received a phone call from the facility. “All I knew was that the staff had left… the police were in there and the ambulance, that’s all I knew,” he explained on the program. “You couldn’t believe it… you wouldn’t treat your animals like that. I’m thinking, they can’t do that.”

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Are any of your loved ones currently residing in an aged care home? What do you think needs to be done to ensure they receive quality service?

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