There may be troubling times ahead for aged care facilities in Lithgow if both Labor or Liberal governments push ahead with a proposed $1.2 billion funding cut to the aged care sector after the July election.
According to an independent study by ANSELL Strategic, the cuts will compromise the aged care sector while creating a disincentive to admit people with complex medical needs.
The cuts have angered many in the local aged care community with growing fears of job losses in the sector.
Independent candidate for Calare Anthony Craig, also a registered nurse at Lithgow Aged Care and former paramedic, recently spoke out against the budget cuts.
“I was very concerned about the original proposed aged care cuts in the budget of $1.2 billion” Mr Craig said.
“However the industry group called Leading Aged Care Australia commissioned an independent study by ANSELL Strategic who claim that the cut is actually closer to $2 billion” Mr Craig said.
According to the report an average 80-bed home will lose $439,000 in funding each year following the budget change.
Mr Craig also said that as part of the budget cuts nursing homes would be less able to administer care for residents who require more complex medical attention.
“From July 1 the government is going to change the Aged Care Funding Instrument (ACFI) and in doing so reduce the claim amount by 50 per cent”.
“From January 2017 any new resident that comes into the centre who requires more complex health care needs will have their ability to claim cut”.
The report goes on to claim that the changes to the ACFI will create a financial disincentive for aged care institutions to admit residents with serious health problems.
The report further states that the cuts will also force a portion of aged care residents back into an already over-burdened hospital system.
Lithgow Aged Care recently applied for a 70-bed extension but were declined by the Department of Health and Aging.
There are currently 50 people on the nursing home's waiting list and with no prospects of increasing the number of beds, coupled with the upcoming budget cuts, Lithgow Aged Care CEO Sharon Holt is concerned about the future.
“Lithgow has one of the highest rating ageing population statistics in the state” Mrs Holt said.
“The most upsetting thing in all of this is that we haven't been consulted at all”.
“It's raw and everybody's upset about it; people are angry”.
“Most of the staff here are taking on extra work just to make sure a standard of care is delivered”.
Lithgow Aged Care currently employ 130 staff that are spread between both Tanderra and Cooinda facilities but that number could drop once the proposed changes take place on July 1.
According to Mr Craig the plight of nursing homes is only becoming increasingly bleak following the NSW Baird Government decision to remove legislation requiring registered nurses to be present at residential care facilities.
“By the end of the year there will be no requirement for aged care providers to have a registered nurse on site at all” Mr Craig said.
“So what will happen is some aged care facilities will start to cut those higher paid jobs to save money on wages and as a result the monitoring of care will deteriorate”.
“Add to this recommendations from the Aged Care Sector Committee to deregulate the industry, which will only further de-stabilise the sector and we have some serious issues here”.
“The public need to know about this because from July 1 aged care CEO's like Sharon are going to have to look very tightly at their budgets and figure out how they're going to save money and keep both the staff and the lights on” Mr Craig said.
Read more at http://www.lithgowmercury.com.au/story/3960555/budget-cuts-leaving-our-elderly-out-in-the-cold/