Solution for more beds

Gippsland’s high demand for respite places has government and industry representatives calling on the Federal Government to help local aged care facilities provide more beds.

Federal Member for McMillan Russell Broadbent demanded urgent action from the Federal Government to ensure older members of the community could access care after meeting with representatives from Warragul Parkinson’s Support Group.

Mr Broadbent said the Federal Government needed to find funding for facilities to open more beds to support more patients.

He said none of the aged care facilities in the McMillan electorate he contacted had any high care or low care vacancies and all had waiting lists for places.

Some of the aged care facilities The Express spoke to shared this problem, but all agreed there was a high demand for respite services.

Meanwhile, Leading Age Services Australia Victoria, which represents all Victorian aged care providers, said the lack of beds available in Gippsland was an example of the uncertainty and lack of investment in the industry.

LASA Victoria chief executive John Begg said he had concerns the Federal Government’s reforms would lead to further restriction on respite providers’ ability to expand or manage costs.

“Residents of aged care facilities pay a bond, those bonds are held in trust and the interest that you earn from those, plus a small percentage of what they call retention is the provider’s ability to then go out and raise capital,” Mr Begg said.

He said one aspect of the amendments to the Aged Care Act 1997, which are before a Senate Committee, was to abolish retention, which he said would limit opportunities to build aged care facilities.

“Retention actually helps their cash flow. If they are not able to get that cash flow they will push up the bonds, because the money has got to come from somewhere,” Mr Begg said.

He urged LASA members to make a submission to the Senate before the Monday deadline.

According to the Department of Health and Aging’s Living Longer Living Better website, the package involves a 10-year plan to reshape aged care and will provide $3.7 billion over five years to build a “better, fairer and more nationally consistent” aged care system.