LASA CEO Sean Rooney delivers detailed précis of the aged care landscape in annual State of the Nation webinar

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In a 90-minute webinar, Sean – accompanied by LASA’s General Manager for Policy and Advocacy, Tim Hicks – Sean Rooney took viewers through the hard facts on the current state of the sector.

The message seemed to be: there is little to celebrate here, apart from the sector’s success in dealing with COVID-19.

He looks to the Royal Commission, which recommences on Wednesday in two weeks (15 July), as the catalyst for ‘transformational change’ and LASA is working with all peak bodies and others to lead the discussion.

“The Royal Commission is a big opportunity to realise the aged care system that older people need and deserve,” he concluded.

Over 90 minutes he focused on funding, workforce, current and future demand for services, and questions for boards, in a wide-ranging presentation backed by deep facts.

He featured the declining residential occupancy (now at 92.1% from 97.1) in 2003/04, increasing cases of non-compliance and sanctions, ballooning RAD pools and unspent funds in home care and staff fatigue.

Sean noted that satisfaction with the quality of services among over-65s has fallen from 90% in 2015 to 83% in 2018, while the number of complaints has risen by 2,000 to 7,800.

He stressed the importance of the sector getting on the front foot, pointing out there is still no way for the sector to measure its consumer base (in contrast, the retirement village sector had a NPS score of 23 in 2018, a high result which we know from our DCM Retirement Community Research Program).

He also stressed the increasing number of providers facing non-compliance notices and sanctions, with two in every five audits now identifying ‘not mets’.

He argued that the failure areas keep repeating themselves (the ‘usual suspects’ – medication management, clinical care and fees and charges). Operators need to find a way to address them so providers can get back onto a reasonable footing with the public.

“At a system level, we need to be able to better respond to those complaints and those most frequent not mets,” he said.

LASA has launched an online safety and quality management system available to members which has been taken up by over 250 members.

He also pointed to LASA’s Membership Charter – launched last October at their annual Congress in Adelaide – which has more than 600 signups – as a way of improving accountability.

Sean advised all directors to question if their quality systems are “fit for purpose”.

 “Think about how you are demonstrating transparency and accountability,” he stated.

 “We are judged as an entire sector on those failings that have been revealed,” he said.

The CEO also underscored the declining financial performance of both residential care and home care, in particular the forecast $1.1 billion in unspent home care funds and the growing risk from a RAD pool which has now reached over $30 billion – before the impact of COVID-19 has begun to be felt.

He said LASA is concerned that this will lead to the closure of aged care homes and risk further investment in the sector and they will be pushing the Government hard for remediation activity in the near team as well as to work through the longer-term structural issues facing the sector.

He confirmed StewartBrown stats that 200+ RAC operators are in a critical financial position.

LASA is well advanced in its remediation submission to Government for the October Budget.