Sector in state of limbo

Providers have called upon the Minister for Mental Health and Ageing, Mark Butler, to urgently announce the allocation of aged care bed licences and community care packages.

The honeymoon period could be wearing thin for the new Minister for Mental Health and Ageing, Mark Butler, as the sector asks why his government has not yet announced the 2010 allocation of aged care bed licences and community care packages, due a month ago.

No public statement has been made by either the Department of Health and Ageing or the minister’s office, explaining why the delay has occurred or even proposing a new date.

CEO of Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA), Greg Mundy, said that the delay in the announcement of the Aged Care Approvals Round (ACAR) has put the sector in a state of limbo.

“What annoys the industry is that the announcement is a month late and we really don’t know why,” said Mr Mundy.

“We don’t even have an estimated date for the announcement. I think people put a lot of effort into the applications and they want to know how they went.

“The delays have widespread ramifications – from elderly people being denied urgent care and support and providers unable to proceed with building plans or allocate funding for priority upgrades, to lost opportunities to engage workers keen to make a difference in the lives of older people.

“Older people struggling without access to community care packages face deterioration in their health which in turn can lead to premature admission to residential aged care.

Mr Mundy said that he has advised both the minister and the department to provide the sector with an explanation for the delay. If that is not feasible, he said, a public statement should be made informing the sector of its new extended deadline.

“The department and the minister are really embarrassed that they have not made an announcement by the date promised.

“An apology is appropriate but I do get a strong sense that they are embarrassed by the delay and they are doing all they can to clear it up.

“More information, more regularly would be an asset to the minister on this. Being honest and making a public statement to say that we are working on some complicated issues would be useful.

 “We urge Minister Butler to intervene and resolve this issue immediately.”

Health and ageing spokesperson for the Australian Greens, Senator Rachel Siewert, has also voiced concern about the delay.

“The government appears intent on waiting for the delivery of the Productivity Commission’s report before taking any meaningful steps to improve the position of our aged care services- but many organisations can not afford to wait any longer.

“…The Productivity Commission report will be important to this systemic reform, but this does not override the Government’s immediate obligation to support the sector.

“These delays dramatically impact an organisation’s ability to remain viable, retain staff and deliver quality care to as many people as possible.”

Tags: acsa, aged-care-approvals-round-acar, australian-greens, mark-butler, rachel-siewert,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *