The West

Albany health workers flag neglect
Bethel Residential Aged Care Facility clinical care co-ordinator Kate Jones and Baptistcare Welshpool manager Carol Barnes.

Albany health workers claim the Federal Government is neglecting aged care and flew flags in protest at sites around town last week.

The flags were flown at Annie Bryson McKeown Lodge, Bethel Residential Aged Care Facility and Gwen Hardie Lodge – which together care for 170 Albany people – to protest an aged-care funding cut of $500 million.

Bapistcare chief executive Lucy Morris said while there was an increase in funds from $8.8 billion in 2011-12 to $9.1 billion in 2012-13, adjustments to the Aged Care Funding Instrument meant a heavy loss which would have an impact on Albany services.

Dr Morris said their financial decisions of staffing, rosters and services had been decided in April and the Government’s decision to change how the ACFI was administered was not announced until the end of June.

She said the Government did not apply the expected annual indexation to provider funding.

“We’re saying it’s a cut because we budgeted for that money,” she said.

“Baptistcare is expected to lose $1.5 million, we will have to adjust quality of care, rosters and wages.”

Dr Morris she had a “deep fear” that quality of care would be affected.

“Rural and regional providers will be hit the hardest, there is already a problem with retaining quality staff in the regions such as Albany,” she said.

Dr Morris said that while reform to the aged-care sector was necessary, service providers would not see the proposed increase in funds until 2014.

“They are putting more money back in but delaying it until 2014 and we will have to re-apply to get access to the funds,” she said.

Peak body Aged and Community Services WA chief executive Stephen Kobelke said WA people should be concerned by the Government’s decision and its impact on elderly people.

“(Also) their families, our hospital system and community home care providers (should be concerned), all of whom will be faced with trying to care for many more people with high-care needs who simply have nowhere to go,” he said.

Minister for Ageing Mark Butler said the department set up an ACFI monitoring group and said claims of funding cuts were untrue.

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