Tue. Dec 5th, 2023

Aged care reforms threaten the future of many smaller aged care facilities across the region with workforce shortages meaning many homes can’t meet the 1 July deadline to have a registered nurse on site.

Following the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety the Labor Government announced its Aged Care Reform as part of their 2022 election commitments. This included a requirement that all aged care homes must have a Registered Nurse on-site 24 hours a day 7 days a week from 1 July 2023. For an aged care sector already struggling with workforce shortages, this announcement meant that they could face closure or financial penalties if they could not meet the requirements by the set deadline.

Federal Member for Parkes Mark Coulton is calling on the Labor Government to immediately address whether they will require struggling aged care homes to meet the staffing requirements by July or risk closure.

“The Government has caused serious distress and uncertainty for aged care providers, the older Australians they care for and their families by bringing forward the Royal Commission’s timeline and imposing these rigid requirements,” Mr Coulton said.

“The Coalition supports older Australians receiving the best possible care, however imposing unrealistic requirements on aged care homes who are already suffering severe staffing shortages has only added to the pressures they face.”

“This week Aged Care Minister Anika Wells acknowledged that the Government’s legislated policy is not deliverable due to the impacts of the workforce crisis, however vulnerable aged care homes remain in a state of uncertainty about what will happen to them if they cannot meet the current or any future deadlines imposed.”

“Minister Wells has admitted that it is nursing homes in rural and remote areas who are most at risk of not being able to meet the July deadline.”

“Much of the Parkes electorate fits this category; any closure of aged care homes in these areas has a serious and severe impact.”

“It directly affects the ability of older people in rural towns to stay in the places where they have lived, worked and built connections over many years.”

“I have had many older Australians and their families contact me because they have difficulty accessing aged care in their own towns. I have had aged care providers reach out because they are struggling to provide a service to their communities.

Mr Coulton said he met with the minister and invited her to visit the electorate to meet with Local Government council members and aged care representatives. He says had she done so, she would have realised that this policy would not result in better care, but rather that it would result in the removal of care entirely.

“We cannot afford to lose any of our aged care homes in the Parkes electorate. Often my constituents have hundreds of kilometres separating them from the next option if they cannot access care in their town. They cannot just skip over to the next suburb.

“I am calling on the Labor Government to make a clear guarantee to aged care homes in the Parkes electorate that none of our aged care facilities will be closed either now or in the future as a result of unrealistic policy requirements,” Mr Coulton said.

Have something to say about this story? Submit your own opinion piece, or quick word, to The Net.