The Australian Greens said today that Aged Care in Western Australia would soon be in crisis if action isn't taken to address the viability of the sector.
"Federal Minister for Ageing, Justine Elliot is trying to paint a rosy picture of Aged Care in Australia, claiming that more beds were sought than were available. However, this does not represent the true picture - which is of a sector on the edge of crisis. In Western Australia, less than half those available places were taken up, and the kinds of services on offer are not keeping up with the changing demand," said Senator Rachel Siewert today.
Funding in the Aged Care sector is offered to care providers for a particular number of places or 'beds' - but service providers say that the rate of funding on offer does not match the cost of providing care. This results in providers having to cross-subsidise these services and argue that they cannot afford to provide more beds, despite increasing demand.
"It is nonsense to try and claim that Aged Care is in a healthy state around Australia just because in some states the release of some types of beds were over subscribed - when it is clear there is a growing problem," said Senator Siewert.
The current Senate Inquiry into Aged Care recently heard that there were thousands of Aged Care places 'off-line' in WA - where places have been provisionally allocated but beds and facilities have not been built or have been decommissioned and not yet replaced. To date only 538 of the 1208 beds offered in WA in the 2008-09 funding round have been taken up by providers.
"What does the Government intend to do about the looming crisis in Aged Care in WA?"
"I've heard stories of people waiting months and months to get a bed, of people only being able to find beds in facilities a long way from their families," said Senator Siewert.
"When will the Government change the funding formula to reflect the increasing demand for high care services?"
The increasing commitment to 'ageing in place' has seen a dramatic change. Elderly Australians now seek to stay at home until they can no longer do so due to extreme frailty and the need for complex care, resulting in 72% of new residents to nursing homes requiring high care.
"At the same time service providers are having difficulties in attracting staff, and have serious concerns about both the short and
long term viability of Aged Care services in WA as well as other states."
The Greens are demanding that the Federal Government outline its plans to address the ongoing sustainability of the Aged Care sector in the face of growing demand from an ageing population.
"Instead of pretending that everything is OK in the Aged Care sector, the Minister should be listening to the sector and working with them to address these issues," concluded Senator Siewert.
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