Aged care providers need to think critically about their service access, design and operations to ensure they meet the needs of all aged care recipients, a provider peak body CEO says.

During Leading Age Services State of the Age Services Industry webinar on Wednesday afternoon CEO Sean Rooney said it was important for aged care executives and directors to discuss the current and potential issues they face in this time of upheaval.

“It’s an understatement to say that we are in a time of crisis,” Rooney told the webinar.

“There is just a shopping list of pressures that are manifesting in different ways in different services,” Mr Rooney said.

In addition to the current health pandemic, these pressures include the impacts of recent drought and bushfires and the aged care and disability royal commissions, Mr Rooney said.

It means increased risks for aged care providers including with financial and regulatory performance and workforce shortages, he said.

Tim Hicks and Sean Rooney during the webinar

Mr Rooney encouraged providers to think critically about:

  • what providing care at home means
  • the occupancy trend and mitigation plans
  • current investment plans for enhancing existing models or developing new models for care and accommodation.

Mr Rooney said over a third of Australians over 70 and more three quarters of Australians over 85 are accessing aged care services, citing the latest figures from Aged Care Financing Authority.

“This is a significant amount of the Australian population in those aged cohorts that are accessing those services.

“And we know when we look at the future demand curve with the Baby Boomer bubble that this only continues in terms of the volume of services that are going to be required and the volume of older people requiring those services,” Mr Rooney said.

Aged Care Financing Authority’s graph on access to aged care services. Source: LASA.

During the webinar, he highlighted findings from the Global Centre for Modern Ageing’s Ageing in the Right Place 2020 report that 8 in 10 Australians aged 55 prefer to stay in their home for as long as possible.

Mr Rooney said it was important for aged care providers to look at making services homely because ageing in the home could refer to a variety of physical locations.

“It’s very insightful for all operators of aged services to think about the service you’re delivering [and] how that is being manifested as providing all those attributes that people desire and feel comfortable as a home,” he said.

“[It’s] not just the four walls and the roof and those types of utilities, but it’s the relationships and the ability to engage, whether you are in your family home, in a retirement village or indeed in a residential care facility.”

He said the sector needed to act now to address both short and long-term issues in the sector.

“Individually, we know providers are concerned about their current situation and what will come next in an uncertain future, but also collectively, as a sector and as a system, there are fundamentals here that need immediate address,” Mr Rooney said.

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  1. The sector faces many challenges beyond COVID going forward.
    This requires building resilience in the system and the ability to adapt.
    Technology and innovation has an important role in enabling this, so we need to ensure the industry has the capability to implement the relevant change by the effective use of technology.
    To do that means we need to develop the digital maturity of the sector to enable it to utilise new technologies and solutions as they become available.
    That is what the ACIITC is there for.

  2. I agree that the pandemic, among other pressures, invites aged care providers to look at short and long term care issues. The way we construct care is problematic. I struggle with the concept of ‘home’ in a residential facility but that is in fact the person’s home albeit with a nursing/medical focus. I agree that relationships are central to care but this is often denigrated particularly in care facilities where the focus is on tasks. I repeatedly make the point about counselling as service of change. People usually at the end of life don’t need to see a psychologist but a counsellor who can listen to them and possibly, make sense of their lived experience. Counselling is a relationship-based service. Maybe the gendering of counsellors is reason to devalue the service, as it continuously does to a highly gendered workforce at the lowest level of care.
    The point is that without people (typically women) performing care, one can’t have a service. Not recognising that in the most explicit way and responding to the problem is a sectoral issue.

  3. We constantly hear providers stating that the Government needs to allocate more funding for Aged Care especially in the RACF space and yet LASA etc refuse to agree to transparency as to where the taxpayers’ money is going. Most private providers post a profit, it’s the NFPs that struggle. How can any provider post profits then ask the taxpayers for more money? How can they post profits when the level of care is classed as neglectful. Also, as the main lobby body, isn’t it neglectful to ask for more money instead of proving to all Australians that the $ amount per person is not sufficient to provide an acceptable level of care? Why aren’t LASA and other lobbyists for Aged Care pointing out to the Government that by not giving appropriate $ amount per person the Government is failing drastically in its duty of care? For example if the cost of feeding one resident per day is $12 but the funding allows for $6 per day, does that mean the resident goes hungry or suffers malnourishment? LASA and other lobbyists do not lobby for appropriate care, they lobby for profit, that’s why a Royal Commission had to be called. Aged Care is a health issue, it’s not a business and never should have been put into the hands of private providers, it amounts to little more than human trafficking. How can there be a successful investment when this ‘business’ is reliant on taxpayer money? That’s a pretty precarious business model.

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