Aged sector begs for COVID-19 rescue package

CEO Charlie Emmerton

CEO Charlie Emmerton

Seven lead organisations in the aged care sector have gone to the federal government for a $1.296 billion injection to help keep homes and services open.

The joint rescue support package proposal is the latest attempt by the sector to keep a large proportion of facilities afloat.

A Leading Age Services Australia spokesperson said well over half had been losing money even before COVID-19, with that ratio rising to more than 70 per cent in regional areas.

"We approached the federal government recently, but the lack of response to the underlying financial situation has prompted the rescue package proposal."

Charlie Emmerton, CEO of Aged Care Deloraine, said the government either acts now and rescues the sector, or facilities would start to fall over one by one.

"It will blow up. It's a matter of when.

"My message to the government is really stark - 'fund us, or you will have to manage us'."

He said the country was not honouring the elderly in aged care homes, and they should be.

"It's a payment of love. Do we really care about these people?"

He said he had hired extra staff during the COVID-19 pandemic because families and friends could not visit the residents.

"They are doing leisure and lifestyle activities to make sure everyone is having social interaction on a regular basis.

"We are making tablets available so people can do Skype or Whatsapp. We've set that up for the family so they can make an appointment to talk to their parents."

Mr Emmerton said the sector was in severe financial distress.

"That hasn't changed; it's probably got worse. I know it's going to be worse in April with the additional staff for stress and diversional therapy.

"We'll spend every cent we've got. When we get to the end, what happens then?"

The proposal comprises:

  • $250 million home care
  • $546 million residential care
  • $500 million IT and training
  • Workforce fund
This story Aged sector begs for COVID-19 rescue package first appeared on The Examiner.