BILLIONS of dollars have been “ripped out” of aged care homes over the last few years – and funding model changes are a “recipe for disaster” that’s only now being realised.
That’s the damning view of Malcolm Price, CEO of Wonthaggi aged care home Rose Lodge, who says it’s been the worst year of funding cuts over his 35+ year career in health care.
His comments follow a report on ABC investigative news program ‘Four Corners’ last month which looked into the lack of care for the elderly in some aged care homes.
“The majority of people working in aged care were as shocked and dismayed by the treatment of some of our elderly as most of us were,” Mr Price said last week.
“If even one person is abused in care, then it is one too many and totally unacceptable in today’s society.”
He believes $3 billion has been “ripped out” of the residential aged care sector and despite reports that there’s increased funding, he says it’s going towards home care and not residential care.
Despite funding cuts, not-for-profit aged care home Rose Lodge continues to provide extensive services for $50 a day.
It includes: three 3-course or more meals a day with choices, laundry services, medications managed, 24-hour personal care as required, equipment (eating aids, walkers, etc.), regular maintenance of those items, physiotherapy, daily entertainment and activities, emotional support and many other services.
“Most residential homes endeavour to provide good care above anything else but with the constant cuts we face we are left with no other choice but to start cutting the 75 per cent of costs – staffing, if you are to survive as a home,” Mr Price said.
“There is nothing left to cushion yourself against, staffing costs go up, funding goes down, cost of living goes up such as food, electricity, water; and regulated services such as fire services, compulsory expenditure. But we have nothing else to give so we are left with no other choice but to cut it.
“Quality care is provided by quality staff, staff with a penchant for caring for the elderly. There are various levels of education provided to training care workers by sometimes less than desirable approved RTO’s (Registered Training Providers) who provide no face-to-face contact or support and often leave fee-paying students to find their own placement and then provide no support to the facility hosting the students.
“Six-week wonders to nothing to help the industry and with the aged care homes dealing now with such high acuity then more funding is required to recruit more skilled care staff.”
He said aged care is one of the most heavily regulated sectors in Australia and has been for many years.
“But it’s always been shoved away in the background by both sides of politics unless it’s for points’ scoring and has had a poor funding system to match its anonymity.
“The public love to see babies and hospital successes, but do not want to see where most of us will end up in the long-run. Out of sight, out of mind.”
He conceded it’s been good to see the complaints being aired and investigated, and says it’s about time the overwhelmingly good news in aged care is focused on.
Mr Price also welcomed the announcement of a Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, which he hopes – among other things, will look at the funding model for aged care homes.