An independent report on the aged care sector shows the profitability of home care providers has dropped by more than 25 per cent over the last 12 months.
The report from UTS Ageing Research Collaborative found the financial performance of home care services declined by 25.5 per cent compared to the previous year, dropping to an average operating result of $3.85 per client per day.
The decline is most marked among providers with more lower level packages, and comes amid increasing costs for care management, administration and support.
Staffing time also continues to fall in home care, the report shows. On average, across all package levels, home care clients receive about 33 minutes of direct care time a day, down 32.1 per cent from five years ago.
Situation likely to get worse before it gets better
The authors note that workforce problems are likely to worsen in the coming year with the release of more home care packages.
“Across the sector, the financial performance of aged care service providers has worsened compared to last year, raising serious concerns about the financial viability of services that senior Australians depend on,” lead author Dr Nicole Sutton says.
She says staffing shortages have been a ‘perennial challenge’ but have worsened in the last year due to covid and the rapid expansion of home care services.
However, report says a number of reforms should help address some of the issues , including the introduction of a new support at home program.
Editorial board chair Professor Mike Woods says he hopes the reports will guide future policy and operational reform as the aged care sector grapples with complex issues around the quality and sustainability of care.
System in crisis, providers say
The Australian Aged Care Collaboration said the report underlines the worsening situation the sector is facing.
“This ongoing financial pressure on aged care services constrains their ability to consistently meet the needs of older Australians relying upon them for care and support. In some cases, this results in older Australians missing out on much needed care, including when services have to close their doors completely,” the AACC said.
The group says the next government will inherit a system in crisis and is calling for emergency investment and long-term reform the aged care system.
The AACC is asking all political parties to commit to:
● A Workforce Partnership Supplement to spend on boosting wages, training, minutes of care, 24-hour nursing, COVID-19 prevention and workforce retention costs.
● A minimum wage increase for aged care workers by funding the Fair Work Commission Work Value Case, and award wage increases from July 2022.
● A commitment to a multidisciplinary workforce by putting in place an allied health needs assessment and funding model by July 2024.