Regional homes will close without help, experts say

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Many more rural Australians may have to spend their final years away from their families and communities given two-thirds of regional aged care homes are operating at a loss. Source: The Guardian.

Closures are already happening and will accelerate if the next federal government fails to properly fund a pay rise for aged care workers, experts say.

At the end of 2020, regional nursing homes were teetering, with almost half (48 per cent) operating at a loss. The following year saw another 18 per cent losing money, according to the latest data from the StewartBrown accountancy firm.

New South Wales and the ACT had the most homes in deficit (69 per cent), but South Australia and the Northern Territory accelerated the quickest with a 28 per cent increase in homes reporting losses in 2021.

While the situation is dire across the sector, the data shows that regional areas have 11 per cent more homes operating with cash losses.

With the Fair Work Commission to decide on a 25 per cent pay increase for aged care workers, the sector could see even greater losses, unless the federal government funds the pay rise.

Grant Corderoy, a senior partner at StewartBrown, which specialises in the aged and community services sector, said aged care homes were “hanging on with their fingernails”.

Paul Sadler, the CEO of Aged and Community Services Australia, said the financial pressure would inevitably cause aged care providers to exit the system.

He said homes in major cities could break even or make money because they had the capacity to levy additional charges to wealthier people.

FULL STORY

More regional aged care homes to close unless government funds pay rise, experts say (By Natasha May, The Guardian)

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