Catholic Health Australia warns ‘dozens’ of aged care homes on the verge of collapse

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Australia’s largest aged care provider Catholic Health Australia says “dozens of aged care homes are on the verge of collapse” due to the ongoing cost of protecting residents and staff from COVID-19.

This is despite Federal Government’s COVID-19 Aged Care Support Program Extension which reimburses aged care providers for eligible expenditure incurred on managing the direct impacts of COVID-19.

Before 1 July 2021, the Federal Government was providing an additional COVID-19 payment to all operators, regardless of whether the homes had an outbreak.

Catholic Health Australia’s Strategy & Mission Director Brigid Meney said while the Commonwealth reimburses costs when there is an outbreak, the extra costs of infection prevention are not covered.

“Around half the aged care homes in Australia are only barely able to make ends meet and now the extra costs associated with this new wave of COVID are going to push them over the edge,” she said.

“Buying and managing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) inventories and disposal, extra measures for ensuring safer visitations, additional costs associated with disruptions to rosters due to staff infections, co-ordination of up-to-date vaccinations – all of this costs money that’s just not available readily within the budgets of most homes.”

The StewartBrown December 2021 Aged Care Financial Performance Survey found 60% of residential aged care homes are now running at a loss, rising to 65% in rural and remote homes.

Catholic Health Australia has called for “a special stream of funding” from the Federal Government, which has already announced an additional $1.2 billion to supply and deliver PPE packs to every aged care facility, the amount determined by the number of residents, from 11 April to mid-May.