Since 2020, the WA residential aged care sector has been warning State and Federal governments of bed closures due to financial sustainability issues and workforce constraints.

With 70% of residential aged care services now operating at a loss, the incoming mandatory requirement for 24/7 registered nurses is proving to be the last straw. We are now seeing aged care homes close across the country. Some publicly (like those announced this week by Wesley Mission and Brightwater Care Group Ltd.) but many more much quietly…

Forecasts by the largest WA aged care providers are that up to 30% of beds will close and nowhere is this situation more dire than in rural and remote areas.

This isn’t just about the incoming mandatory requirement for 24/7 registered nurses. This is about the very viability of the residential aged care sector and its ability to look after elderly Australians. It is also worth noting that the ‘back-up’ in areas where the sector fails is the local hospital – expensive for the tax-payer and completely inappropriate for the elderly who will end up stranded in them.

Minister Anika Wells has called for ‘optimism’, Janet Anderson, Commissioner of the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission Care Quality & Safety Commission has scolded the ‘scaremongers’ and promised to take a ‘fair and sensible approach to regulation’ and there is some additional funding coming through to fund the registered nurse requirements. However, much more needs to be done to avoid large scale closures.

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