Private operators dominate final ACAR before freeing up of residential care market in July 2024

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The Federal Government has surprised the sector, delivering double the number of promised residential aged care places in its final Aged Care Approvals Rounds (ACAR) – and private operators are the major winners.

As we reported here, the Government finally opened the long-awaited 2020 ACAR last December after an eight-month delay with just 2,000 residential care places available that were required to be ‘shovel-ready’.

But last week, the Government announced it would deliver 4,098 residential aged care places and 1,028 short-term restorative care (STRC) places worth a combined $380 million a year in the final ACAR before the systems moves to allocate beds to the consumer – not the provider – on 1 July 2024.

Private operators lead development

Thompson Health Care, Signature Care and TLC Healthcare received the highest number of allocations, with Thompson picking up 304 places for three NSW facilities.

Signature received 273 new aged care places as top ups or extensions to its new or planned facilities which include over 600 beds and four facilities under construction and seven facilities in development.

TLC Healthcare (TLC) was awarded 205 places for five of its facilities including 150 for a new integrated healthcare facility in Melbourne.

Providers will still be able to apply to build new beds during the transition period through two ways:

  1. Acquire places and seek the Department’s approval to transfer these places.
  2. Alternatively, on completion of building works, providers that can demonstrate they are in a position to provide care will be able to seek an allocation of places through a non-competitive process. More information on this process will be communicated by the Department in the coming months.

Record $150 million in capital grants awarded

Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services, Senator Richard Colbeck, said most of the new places will take effect within the next 18 months.

“I’m delighted with the response by providers that demonstrated their capacity to fast-track the delivery of quality care to senior Australians,” he said.

“As a result, twice as many residential care places have been allocated than were made available for allocation.”

Priority locations were also a focus, with more than half of the new places allocated to areas most in need, including in regional and remote Australia.

In addition, a total of $150 million in capital grants have been allocated to fund 72 infrastructure projects, an average of $2.1 million each, and the single largest investment in residential aged care infrastructure in Australia’s history.