WA providers need budget relief

Faced with an existing bed shortage, aged care groups in Western Australia say they need urgent support.

West Australian aged care providers have warned they will be in a dire situation if the government does not boost funding for the sector in this week’s federal budget.

One of the state’s largest providers said the sector would be unable to build new places announced by the government because current funding levels are inadequate.

The CEO of the Bethanie Group, Wayne Belcher said WA is already facing a significant shortage of aged care places and the trend will continue if nothing changes.

In 2008-09, 43 per cent of the beds offered to the state’s providers were not taken up and between March 2007 and March 2009, nearly 800 beds were handed back.

“This is because on a per-bed basis, there is a capital shortfall of around $65,000 per room and a major disconnect between the cost of operating those beds and the government funding provided to do so,” he said.

“The government can keep providing the global funding to the [Department of Health and Ageing], but until it looks at the individual cost of building and running a bed, the system will continue to fail and our elderly will continue to crowd our hospitals in inappropriate care settings.”

According to Aged Care Association Western Australia (ACAA-WA), the industry will continue to struggle while funding indexation remains at current levels.

“WA providers have experienced utility costs increases of up to 30 per cent and the unions are calling for more than 10 per cent wage increases, so you don’t need to be an economist to work out that the industry’s indexation of less than 2 per cent is not able to meet these demands, let alone any of the other compounding cost factors,” said the group’s CEO, Anne-Marie Archer.

“Unfortunately we are not expecting aged care will receive much more this year, which would indicate that the industry will continue sliding backwards,” she added.

Tags: budget, funding, indexation, wa,

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