A new report has found the majority of Australia’s aged care facilities were still running at a loss at the tail end of last year – pointing to staffing shortages, increased levels of overtime and agency staff requirements as the main problems behind this financial crisis.
The latest StewartBrown Aged Care Financial Performance Survey Sector Report analysed records from 1,182 of the 2,500 nursing homes in Australia and found 70% of them ran at a loss over last year’s July-September period, jumping from 67% reported in June quarter.
Aged care facilities also reportedly lost an average of $21.29 a bed per day over that quarter compared to $7.30 over the same period 12 months earlier. Compared to the prior June quarter, the sector was losing $14.67 per bed per day on operating costs.
The sector continues to have a steadily declining financial performance despite a wide range of aged care reforms and funding being put in place last year and the report identified extra funding and long-term reform as the solutions to this crisis.
Aged and Community Care Providers Association’s (ACCPA) Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Tom Symondson, said the numbers outlined in the report equated to an annual loss of $1.4 billion for the industry.
Mr Symondson explained the crisis was caused by the increased cost of delivering services combined with the failure of Federal funding to keep pace with what was happening in the sector in real time.
“It’s not chickenfeed. It’s a very significant number,” Mr Symondson told ABC Radio National.
“We know that aged care has been under huge pressure for years – decades, in fact.
“COVID has made it worse, but it was already struggling before that.”
Treasurer Jim Chalmers agreed the aged care sector remains a “mess” with a majority of providers experiencing heavy financial losses, however, the Federal Government were looking to “clean it up”.
“Aged care has been a mess for some time and what we’re trying to do in the Albanese Government is to clean it up,” he told ABC Radio National.
October’s Federal Labor Budget saw an extra $2.5 billion allocated to aged care over four years for sector reforms, including a pay rise for aged care workers and an increase in the care minutes residents receive from their care team.
The Budget also earmarked that this year the sector can expect more research and consultation to further reform the home care system, as well as the implementation of a personal care workers registration scheme to help fix the sector.