Care burden increases

An AIHW report reveals why so many residential aged care providers are struggling.

A key report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has confirmed that the burden on residential aged care facilities is steadily increasing.

The statistical overview of aged care found that residents are entering facilities with higher care needs and staying longer than they were a decade ago.

Seventy per cent of residents required high care in 2006-07, compared to 58 per cent ten years earlier.

In the same period, the average length of stay for permanent residents jumped from 131 to 146 weeks.

The report found that the annual allocation process is beginning to reflect the change in demographics with high care beds representing 42 per cent of all places in 2006-07 – up from a maximum of 32 per cent in the previous five years.

But Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA) CEO Greg Mundy said aged care funding is not keeping up with the changes.

“This data exposes the inadequacy and lack of equity within the high care system,” he said. “In low care people on average pay twice as much as high care people.”

“The Government keeps saying no to bonds [in high care] and in doing that, it is ruling out one possible solution.”

“We need to find significant solutions instead of just tinkering around the edges.”

Mr Mundy also said the industry was struggling with the phased introduction of the maximum ACFI payments, which will not be available until 2011.

The Shadow Minsiter for Ageing, Margaret May said the ALP needed to pay more attention to aged care.

“The Government has offered no solutions and has its head in the sand when dealing with the challenges of our ageing population,” said Mrs May.
“To ensure that the frail and elderly receive the good quality care they deserve, we need to give the issue the priority attention it needs and address the challenges Australia is facing  in a considered and innovative way”, Mrs May said.”

The report recorded that the number of operational residential aged care places had increased to 170,071 at the end of the 2006-07 financial year.

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