Government’s billions no cure for problems plaguing aged care: “No marked improvement”

Billions no cure for aged care problems

The survey, which was reported in The Australian, appears to have been conducted for political reasons, revealing the views of 360,000 Victorians from the state electorates of Bentleigh, Brighton, Carrum, Eureka, Eltham, Evelyn, Kalkallo and Melton. It was conducted in November.

Of the survey respondents, 80% said they had not seen any “marked improvement” in aged-care services since the Morrison government injected $17.7 billion into the sector.

More than 20% of those surveyed said they don’t expect standards to improve in the next 12 months.

Nearly half – 45% – feared aged care providers put profits before quality of care, and more than one quarter – 26% – said they were worried about poorly paid and trained staff.

Ian Yates AM, chief executive of Council on the Ageing (COTA), told HelloCare there has been a “huge” amount of change going on behind the scenes in aged care that might not be visible to the public.

Providers are deeply engaged in industry consultation and implementing changes that have already been brought in, to the extent many are reporting having to work extremely hard to keep up.

In particular, Mr Yates said it was encouraging to see the “hot button” issue of home care waiting lists shorten significantly, though there are still 75,000 people waiting to access home care. 

Some high-priority level 4 home care packages are being allocated within two months now, whereas it was taking over a year previously.

The new restrictive practices regime is also having a “real impact” on provider practices, making them consider new ways of caring for people living with dementia without resorting to restraints.

The fact that the last Aged Care Approvals Round has been conducted, and we are already in the transition period until 1 July 2024, when residential aged care places will be allocated directly to care recipients, is “huge”, he said.

However, Yates conceded there are still problems related to workforce and the findings of the royal commission that require attention.

Aged Care Community Services Australia (ACSA) CEO, Paul Sadler, told HelloCare, “Most of the government’s investment of $17 billion over five years in response to the Aged Care Royal Commission is yet to come.”

The mandated 200 minutes of care per resident per day is not coming into effect until October 2023 and there has “not yet been any funding released to increase staffing levels in residential care,” he said. 

The pandemic has created “an immediate workforce crisis”, he said, with some aged care providers reporting vacancy rates as high as 20% of all staff positions.

The Australian Aged Care Collaboration (AACC), of which ACSA is part, is calling on the government to immediately remedy the “well-known issues plaguing the aged care workforce”, including recruiting and retaining skilled and experienced staff. 

“We also need the government to release funding it has approved, such as the funding for the home care workforce attraction and retention program,” he said.

Aged care providers remain under significant financial pressure, Mr Sadler said.

The AACC has launched an Aged Care Reform Scorecard to monitor progress on Royal Commission-recommended reform and ensure it’s on track.

The scorecard will consider if the reforms are on time, have they met expectations and are they instilling confidence in the future.

The inaugural report finds there are few tangible milestones to report in the first six months after the Commission’s report was handed down, and provider confidence with the process is low.

Mr Sadler said, “Progress over the past six months has been disappointingly slow.

“Providers have significant concern that the reform process is too slow and lacks transparency.”

The survey shows the long-standing challenges of finding suitable people to work in aged care have been exacerbated by the pandemic and remain one of the biggest challenges.

CEO Leading Age Services Australia (LASA), Sean Rooney, said, “The challenge for aged care providers in finding skilled staff is now a genuine crisis.”

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  1. Unfortunately the Government has made zero progress on one of the biggest issues, transparency.

    We need to see where the Aged Care Providers are spending the money, we need to see which related entities are taking the profits.

    Total transparency is required, then we will get improvement.

    The profitable storage of old people is still the objective of some Age Care Providers.

    1. Max… what exactly do you think the government doesn’t already know about the financial position of every nursing home?

      Anyone that has any miniscule idea of how nursing homes operate already knows that each and every facility has to present fully audited independent account for every cent to the government by October 30 every year.

      If there is a facility making a profit AND delivering appropriate care then can I ask you what profit percentage should nursing homes be able to make? Keep in mind please that a pub will return around 18% and they do this without any scrutiny or sanction threat.
      I’d really like to know what you think…

      Let’s also not forget that the government put residential care to private and charitable organisations because they couldn’t do the job as well or as cheaply. Nothing has changed.

      1. If aged care providers did not turn a profit. The licensed owners from the big end of town would not have invested in the purchase of facilities. research the licence holders.

  2. That’s a terrible analogy by Mr Yates that “you don’t turn an aircraft carrier around overnight”… A modern aircraft carrier is over 1,000 feet long, weighs 100,000 tons, carries 6,000 sailors, and 70 airplanes. Yet it can turn around inside its own length in about three minutes… The government has been made well aware of the issues facing the industry, for at least the 20 years I have been in it! NOT GOOD ENOUGH! Get on with it! Elderly people have worked their whole lives, paid taxes, supported the economy, many have been to war, or stayed behind to keep our country afloat, and this is how they are treated in their winter years? This government, who have been in power 18 of the last 24 years, has A LOT to answer for!

  3. I wondered whether the culture of institutionalized care facilities had been changed to a more team approach which likely, if implemented properly, would increase recruitment. If one only goes. In one direction to improve care and ignores the underlying reasons for problems with care i.e. top down organization model, with top to bottom authority as in the medical model of care instead of a team based approach where all staff reach the same goals working together would improve working conditions and subsequently the caregiving improves.
    Traditionally when upper management is involved the directing care it usually creates further problems because of the lack of understanding what goes onto caregiving. Generally the person-centered care approach fails because it is not seen as a goal by upper management.
    If the staff were de-identified in ranking of power, and all on level field, the care would improve because all are in it together and there is no blaming.
    Going leaderless would work even better with those with skills sets in different areas are dependent on each other and that creates a unity among workers and a better place to work in and better care experienced by the seniors as they are mostly the leaders = person-centered care. It is the way we worked in hospital in the 1970s to the late 1980s people wanted to work with us.

  4. The recent report from the Grattan Institute , 12.12.21, “Unfinished Business; practical policies for better care at home” says it all. As an 84 year old user of the system with a home care package, I am so lucky to have navigated the system and successfully achieved a result but many of my cohorts are not as fortunate. Has the Government deliberately made the system too difficult for the aged to navigate? Are they saving money by waiting for us to die?

  5. There have been no changes from what I’ve seen. Things have dramatically got worse with providers cutting costs at the expense of the residents. Staff shortages are at an all time low adding pressure on staff working with very little resources . Staff don’t bother putting in complaints as they go unheard. I have found the same thing as a family member. Providers are good at ticking boxes and developing policies and procedures so when it’s audit time they look good. Aged care is a disgraceful shamble and federal government needs to be held a accountable

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