Seven organisations representing aged care providers have come together to call on the Federal Government to address the sector’s urgent funding and accessibility issues in the December mini-budget.
Aged and Community Services Australia, Anglicare Australia, Baptist Care Australia, Catholic Health Australia, Leading Age Services Australia, The Aged Care Guild and UnitingCare Australia said their pre-Christmas appeal aimed “to avoid an aged care emergency in 2020”.
The groups have united to urge the Federal Government to use the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) to address the immediate risk providers and senior Australians and support the aged care industry through the royal commission process.
They are calling for immediate action on residential aged care funding, a detailed plan to release and fund additional home care packages and community infrastructure strategies embedded in the drought response to reduce service disadvantage in these regions.
The funding will directly support the aged care workforce, which accounts for 70 per cent of providers’ expenses, they said.
“The fact is, without further investment, residential facilities – and associated home and community care services – will be lost in the next 12 months,” the groups said in a joint statement.
ACSA CEO Patricia Sparrow said the additional 10,000 home care packages in the government’s response to the royal commission’s interim report were good, but not enough, and residential care hadn’t been addressed at all.
“We are asking for government to take action in MYEFO and particularly on residential care,” Ms Sparrow told Australian Ageing Agenda.
Too many providers are under financial stress and several are having conversations about closing facilities, she said.
“We all came together because we don’t want older Australians to miss out on care that they need.
“We want them to be able to get the services when they need them and where they live.”
The group highlighted StewartBrown findings about the large number of facilities operating at a loss and industry analysis from LASA suggesting nearly 200 providers with up to 50,000 beds are at an unacceptably high level of financial risk.
“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.
“Unless addressed, the continuing failure of revenue increases to keep up with cost increases will put the viability of residential aged care services at risk,” they said.
Ms Sparrow said the government-funded KPMG-run business advisory service was a good initiative.
However, 75 per cent of rural and remote facilities and 50 per cent of metropolitan facilities operating at a loss indicates a system-wide problem rather than a provider issue, she said.
“Therefore we are calling for a system-wide response that makes sure that older Australians are able to get services wherever they are living,” Ms Sparrow said.
The aged care sector and community can’t wait for the royal commission to finish and instead need significant action and funding now, she said.
Find out more about the government-funded business advisory service here.
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