Revenue utilisation and staffing issues in the home care sector has affected its financial performance, the latest findings from StewartBrown’s aged care financial survey has revealed.

Figures for the months between July and September 2021 show that revenue utilisation increased by 0.3 per cent from the previous year, from 85.5 per cent to 85.8 per cent.

“Revenue utilisation remains the primary issue in improving the financial performance,” the report says.

Compared to September 2020, there has been an increase in home care revenue per client, care management and advisory costs, administration and support costs, and a reduction in direct care costs.

The operating result is $4.90 per client per day, an increase of $1.22 per client from the previous year’s result of $3.68.

The average amount of unspent funds per client continues to climb and is now at $10,117, compared $9,151 per client in the previous year.

Across the sector, unspent funds now represent in excess of $1.6 billion nationally.

Staffing issues

Staff are also working longer hours, with average staff hours worked per client week increasing to 5.62 staff hours year per client per week from 5.39 hours last year.  

“As with residential aged care, staffing remains the most crucial concern, and this coupled with a complicated regulatory environment has seen the financial performance stagnate,” the report says.

Direct service hours per care recipient per week, including agency staff, has increased to 4.10 hours on average compared to 3.91 hours in September 2020.

The report notes that staffing hours are for direct care service delivery by providers to care recipients and does not include sub-contracted services such as home maintenance, cleaning, social support and allied health.

“The aged care sector continues to operate in a difficult clinical, operational and financial environment,” the report says.

“The increasingly destabilising effects of the highly transmissible Omicron coronavirus variant have heightened the issues with the existing policy settings, particularly in regards to staffing which is at a crisis level.”

The report recommends that additional financial reforms need to be included in the reform agenda, including funding to increase staff remuneration and benefits, an alternate Home Care funding model and regulated consumer contribution for Home Care based on ability to pay.

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