Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has unapologetically backed his Government’s “ambitious” aged care targets despite bigger providers calling for extended exemptions and many facilities closing due to looming new mandatory compliance requirements.
Last week, HelloCare reported that all three of the Wesley Mission Sydney aged care facilities have been scheduled for closure at the end of May, as impending regulatory changes take effect on July 1 – impacting about 200 residents and their families who now need to find alternative care.
On the other side of the country, Perth aged care provider, Brightwater, also announced it will close three of its 12 residential facilities in the next year as it struggles to meet the requirements due to a lack of staff.
From July 1, all aged care facilities will be required to have a Registered Nurse on-site 24 hours a day, 7 days a week but at the end of last month, the Federal Government confirmed it would fail to meet the ambitious July 1 nursing deadline as one in 20 facilities would not have the staff.
About 5% of facilities have been granted a 12-month exemption from the requirement for homes with under 30 beds in rural and remote settings but bigger providers are also struggling and some want to see the exemption requirements extended to include these organisations.
Tom Symondson, Aged & Community Care Providers Association (ACCPA) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) is also pushing for those exemptions to be extended.
“We’ve got much larger providers, particularly in rural and regional areas, that are struggling to meet that 24/7 nursing requirement so we need to make sure they’re not being punished for something that everybody can see they cannot meet,” he told ABC Radio.
But this morning, Mr Albanese defended his Government’s policy on another ABC Radio segment, saying that close to 90% of residential facilities would meet the 24/7 nursing requirements.
“The fact that 90% have met the (staffing) requirements already shows that we make no apologies for being ambitious in this area,” he said.
“But we’re also being very practical about the way that these issues are dealt with.
“Workforce is a challenge in aged care and that’s why the Government has committed to funding the 15% increase in the award wage for workers.”
Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN) CEO, Craig Gear, spoke with The Daily Telegraph, sharing ways aged care residents and their families can put the power back into their own hands.
Mr Gear said concerned relatives in other homes should ask their provider what their future plans are, and if there are to be any changes, which is their right under the Charter of Aged Care Rights.
“We want to reassure people that this can be done smoothly, and help take the anxiety away,” he said.
“Older people have the right to information about things that might affect their care and support.
“There should be open disclosure.”
In the instances of the Wesley Mission and Brightwater closures, affected residents should be assisted by their providers and the Government to find a variety of other options for them. If you are affected it is important to liaise with your provider and the Department of Health and Aged Care.
But if residents and their families are looking for a new facility on their own, the Government’s five star ratings reflect the performance of Australian aged care facilities and is a tool that can help find appropriate care.
Facilities are given a rating out of five and these results are published on the My Aged Care website for consumers to access.
To help answer all your questions and receive support in this, consumers can contact OPAN by calling 1800 700 600 or visiting their website.