LASA has issued a renewed call for improvements to staffing and funding levels following media reports on the death of a resident at a Bundaberg nursing home.
Referring to an ABC TV report on the 7.30 program which blamed funding cuts for putting elderly residents at risk, LASA chief executive Sean Rooney said high quality residential care should not be negotiable.
“Australia has a good aged care system. And, we know that a good system can always do better. Situations such as those raised by the ABC 7.30 Report are not acceptable,” Rooney said.
“However, the actions taken by the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency (AACQA) show that the aged care regulatory system is working.
“The Government is well aware that current funding for the aged care system is not sustainable and a national solution to pay for the growing cost of aged care is required.
“We need to design and develop a sustainable funding strategy underpinned by detailed research, analysis and modelling. Funding options for consideration should include examples from other countries, such as national insurance schemes, taxpayer levies, user-pays models, taxation concessions/supplements and the like.”
Rooney came to the defence of aged care providers, and said that about 97 per cent of Queensland nursing homes had “a clean bill of health” and raised no issues last year.
Additionally, the rate of complaints in the sector was 569 for every 51,493 beds (.015 per cent), and only nine of 445 facilities had received notices of non-compliance.
LASA has also called for an immediate funding injection in the upcoming 2018-19 Budget, particularly for rural and regional providers, and more focus on delivering quality staff.
“The provision of appropriate levels of care for older Australians in residential care facilities is not as simple as the number of staff on duty, or arbitrary staffing ratios,” Rooney said.
“The needs of people in residential aged care are highly variable and, within a stringent quality control system, a flexible staffing mix can deliver the best quality of care targeted at individual care needs.
“Flexibility to adjust the staffing mix as the profile of residents changes is a very important consideration, as is the adaptability to move to new models of care driven by innovation and new technology.
“We have been advising Government for the past year of the impact on residential care providers of the combination of rising costs and reducing revenues – recent changes to government funding arrangements have cut deeper than anticipated and the ability of our members to deliver accessible, affordable, quality care and services to older Australians is now at serious risk.”
New data released by StewartBrown yesterday showed that 41 per cent of residential aged care providers recorded a loss, as of December 2017, compared with 31 per cent in 2015/16.
Approximately 56 per cent of rural and remote facilities are expected to report a financial loss in 2017/18.
Peak bodies ACSA, LASA and The Guild maintain this situation is “caused in part” by government changes to funding arrangements.
“Over 40 per cent of aged care providers are now making a loss and many more are struggling to remain financially viable, particularly those in remote and rural areas and providers looking after the most disadvantaged, including homeless people,” ACSA chief executive Pat Sparrow said.
“The sector now needs an urgent funding injection, such as an ‘adjustment payment’, while the longer term work on new funding arrangements is being undertaken.”
The Aged Care Guild has estimated that Australia will need another 83,500 beds over the next 10 years to meet rising demand.
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