The NSW Health Services Union has called for extra funding for aged care after Southern Cross Care cut the number of care hours.
HSU aged care manager Rob Sheehy wants to see the federal government unlock the funding freeze to aged care services, worth around $2 billion, and implement a sustainable funding model.
Mr Sheehy said 58 per cent of regional aged care service providers were losing money.
“It’s common that companies are looking to cut back,” he said.
Mr Sheehy said in Cootamundra, 52 hours of care per fortnight, from laundry services to lifestyle activities had been cut.
Around 417 hours had been cut each fortnight in Harden, other Southern Cross Care facilities in Parkes, Leeton, Deniliquin and Albury have also lost hours.
Southern Cross Care CEO Paul McMahon confirmed the reduction in hours.
There needs to be a funding model that accurately reflects the true cost of high quality care that our older Australians deserve.NSW Health Services Union aged care manager Rob Sheehy
Mr McMahon said the reduction of care hours was due to a tightening of available funding and it was important to protect the long-term sustainability of aged care facilities. He said Southern Cross Care’s facilities operated 24 hours a day.
“The reductions have included shortening morning and evening shifts slightly while maintaining staffing levels throughout peak times,” he said.
Mr McMahon said resident’s care was the number one priority and they were still delivering more care hours than the benchmark.
“A staggered reduction in the duration of hours for some activities programs, laundry services, and kitchen services were implemented across each fortnightly roster,” he said.
“We have been focused on creating minimal disruption and we sought to retain jobs where possible.”
Mr McMahon said Southern Cross Care is committed to a future in regional NSW.
“We have a strong balance sheet and an excellent team managing the organisation,” he said.
“By making these difficult, but necessary adjustments now, we will continue as a successful and respected age care provider well into the future,” Mr McMahon said.
Mr Sheehy said any reduction to hours or staff numbers in aged care would have a “significant impact”.
“What we find is workloads are very high already and staff numbers are low for the work all across aged care,” Mr Sheehy said.
He said the current funding model didn’t allow organisations to provide the best level of care.
“There needs to be a funding model that accurately reflects the true cost of high quality care that our older Australians deserve,” he said.
“There’s no minimum staffing levels for staff across aged care, shifts are being reduced all across the spectrum.”
The cut to staff hours are also likely to impact specialist services including palliative and dementia care.
“There’s a funding crisis when 58 per cent of aged care services are losing money and it can only go on so long,” Mr Sheehy said.
“The government needs to step in and resolve the crisis. It has to put regional aged care back on an economically sound footing.”