The national aged care sector, including UnitingCare Australia, warns that, with today’s Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) flagging no additional direct investment for residential and home care, the risk of aged care emergencies looms large in 2020.
The Government had already announced $537 million in response to the Aged Care Royal Commission, with an additional $87 million announced today mainly covering Government administration costs.
The sector has highlighted that:
- An independent StewartBrown study highlights that – setting aside a one-off Government grant early this year – around half of Australia’s residential care facilities are losing money, with the figure around 70 per cent in regional areas.
- A provider member survey in July showed up to 15 per cent of residential care providers may have to close services in 2020, if their financial situation does not improve.
- Industry analysis of Department of Health data indicates almost 200 providers – caring for up to 50,000 older Australians – are operating at a high level of financial risk.
They argue that further targeted investment and reforms are urgently required to help ensure residential care sustainability, so older Australians in need receive care services where and when they require them. While the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety continues its crucial work, the sector says additional targeted transitional support is critical, to make sure seniors continue to receive adequate care, especially in regional areas.
Many providers cannot wait for the implementation of the final Aged Care Royal Commission recommendations, which will be delivered in November 2020. Some smaller residential care providers are facing particularly steep funding challenges and cannot carry further deficits, in the hope that financial conditions will improve.
Without more assistance in the short term, some residential providers will find it almost impossible to continue delivering quality care in their communities. On the home care front, with nearly 120 000 people yet to receive their assessed level of service – and many waiting up to two years or more for their approved Home Care Package – the aged care sector is asking to work with the Federal Government on a structured plan and more funding to reduce the queue. Older Australians and their loved ones need a strategy that sets a maximum wait time for people allocated care, with a measured scheme to reduce the delay.
Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA), Anglicare Australia, Baptist Care Australia, Catholic Health Australia, Leading Age Services Australia (LASA), Aged Care Guild and UnitingCare Australia represent providers who are committed to delivering quality care and certainty of care for older Australians, their families and communities.
They say that more action is needed in the areas of: residential aged care and workforce; home care packages; and regional, rural and remote services.