Aged-care home shutdown 'wake up call'
Aged-care facilities across Australia are at "risk of failure" without adequate federal funding, the industry's peak body has warned, after the sudden shut down of a Queensland facility left residents stranded.
Leading Age Services Australia CEO Sean Rooney says the abrupt closure of the Earle Haven Retirement Village on the Gold Coast was unprecedented and unacceptable.
"This is a wake up call to the aged care system," he told AAP on Friday.
"We need to make sure it's adequately resourced and we need an early warning system."
Patient records, drugs and even food supplies were stripped from the Nerang facility, which led a staff member to call triple-zero for help before an 11-hour operation to find residents emergency beds elsewhere, says Queensland Health Minister Steven Miles.
Thursday's shut down of the Gold Coast centre has been attributed to a commercial dispute between the owner People Care and medical contractor HelpStreet, which was trusted to operate the aged-care wing.
People Care says it chose to terminate its contract with HelpStreet and gave them notice, while the contractor claims People Care failed to pay it for its services.
Mr Rooney said LASA has warned the federal government about an "ongoing unfolding crisis" within the industry which means "the risk of failure of services continues to increase and grow".
"Even without this issue on the Gold Coast, the policy, funding and regulatory settings have not kept pace with the growing needs of older Australians," he said.
He pointed to a report, released last week, that showed the rate of indexation of subsidies to the aged-care industry had not kept pace with rising costs.
The government's Aged Care Financing Authority's annual report revealed 44 per cent of residential aged care providers were operating at a loss in 2017-18, compared with 32 per cent in 2016-17.
There was also a notable "ongoing decline in the number of residential care providers reporting that they planned to rebuild or upgrade their facilities" and smaller providers, particularly in rural areas, were increasingly seeking to leave the industry due to financial pressures, the report said.
"Many of the developments in 2017-18 raise challenges in terms of achieving the objective of a financially viable, stable, efficient, responsive and sustainable industry delivering high quality aged care services," the report stated.
Mr Rooney said aged-care industry providers need an "urgent influx of funds" while the Aged Care Royal Commission put forward its recommendations for a long-term solution to the industry's many problems.
The federal government has promised a full investigation into the Queensland facility.
© AAP 2019