More aged care facilities are facing closure, with Western Australia’s Brightwater Care Group announcing that it will shut down three of its Perth centres within the next 12 months due to rostering and financial pressures in meeting the new staffing mandate.
Starting from July, it will be mandatory for all residential aged care facilities to have a registered nurse on-site around the clock. The closure of Brightwater’s facilities comes after Wesley Mission announced the closure of all three of its aged care homes in Sydney, affecting nearly 200 residents.
Aged care minister Anika Wells defended the government’s decision, stating that the 24/7 nursing requirement was necessary to restore dignity to older people and address the staffing shortages in the sector.
I will not apologise for being ambitious to improve the quality of aged care.— Anika Wells MP (@AnikaWells) April 13, 2023
It’s what the Royal Commission asked of us and what older people deserve.
Providers who are making genuine efforts to follow the rules and keep their residents safe should not be concerned.@abcnews pic.twitter.com/JouqO7mLYz
The government has provided exemptions for facilities that have valid reasons for not being able to meet the 24/7 nursing requirements, such as those in regional areas with less than 30 beds, and has created a funding supplement for residential services with 60 or fewer residents to help facilitate the changes. Not meeting the staffing requirements alone is not enough for a facility to be closed, and the government has stated that it will work with facilities to help them meet the new standards.
However, the opposition shadow aged care minister, Anne Ruston, criticised the government for being “reckless” in bringing forward the Royal Commission’s recommendations and imposing rigid constraints on the aged care sector. She expressed concerns about older Australians being forced out of their homes due to government regulations.
As the debate continues, the aged care sector in Australia is grappling with the challenges of meeting the new staffing requirements while ensuring quality care for older Australians in a financially sustainable manner. Inside Ageing’s Aged Care Industry Survey is currently asking the sector to comment on Business Pressures (inc staffing) impacting their operations, with the results to be revealed in a report that will be provided to survey respondents free of charge – share your views here.