New aged care industry data released by accounting firm StewartBrown shows that the sector remains precariously placed, with the majority of aged care homes operating at a loss, costs increasing and occupancy rates declining, says Aged & Community Services Australia (ACSA).
ACSA CEO, Patricia Sparrow said the data showed that 60% of aged care facilities recorded an operating loss for the nine months to March and occupancy levels dropped to 92.1%, down from 93.6% the previous year.
Ms Sparrow said the numbers were even more alarming given that the latest figures only covered the first month of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Things are getting harder at an already difficult time for the aged care sector; our staff have been working overtime to protect older people from COVID-19, but we’re yet to receive the support required to cover increased COVID costs let alone arrest this financial decline,” said Ms Sparrow.
“Right now, we’re asking aged care operators to maintain the mental and physical health of our most vulnerable Australians and protect them from COVID-19 while many were already running at a loss,” she said.
“On top of that, these financial numbers are likely to get even worse as the pandemic continues and operators count the cost of the pandemic at its peak.”
Ms Sparrow said that while Australia was embarking on a COVID recovery effort, aged care operators still needed to be vigilant to prevent outbreaks as visitors to residents became more frequent.
“The already troubled financial situation of the aged care sector coupled with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic shows that rescue measures are urgently needed to ensure the sector’s viability,” said Ms Sparrow.
“The numbers show that not-for-profit aged care providers can’t be taken for granted,” she said.