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New funding woes for aged care: report

The majority of Australian residential aged care facilities are operating at a loss, and the situation is even more dire in regional and remote areas.

New figures from StewartBrown reveal that 60 per cent of surveyed residential facilities recorded an operating loss during the first nine months of this financial year. That figure rose to 74 per cent when looking at regional and remote facilities alone.

The nine months to March 2020 also marked the first significant decrease in occupancy levels for at least eight years, the report found.

Leading Aged Services Australia chief executive Sean Rooney said the data reveals the pressure providers faced delivering quality care to older Australians, even before the full impact of the pandemic hit.

“It is unacceptable that the number of services operating in the red has doubled in the past four years,” he said.

Rooney added that the financial situation for providers is likely to further deteriorate.

Aged & Community Services Australia chief executive Patricia Sparrow said the numbers were worrying enough on their own but even more alarming when considering that the latest figures only cover the first month of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Things are getting harder at an already difficult time for the aged care sector; our staff have been working overtime to protect older people from COVID-19, but we’re yet to receive the support required to cover increased COVID costs, let alone arrest this financial decline,” Sparrow said.

The report recommended a number of funding considerations, including:

  • $700 million to lift the basic daily resident fee
  • a $350 million accommodation supplement
  • $315 million for an ongoing training subsidy
  • $240 million for an inflation subsidy
  • $140 million in regional provider funding

Rooney said: “We have welcomed the government’s aged care COVID-19 funding, but this latest report shows the dire state of residential finances to provide care for our valued elders, ahead of the extensive coronavirus costs.”

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