SOUTH-west aged care home providers have downplayed concern by the Health Workers Union (HWU) that much of the region could be without public facilities.
The HWU said residents in Warrnambool, Hamilton and Heywood faced “privatisation by stealth” that was destroying public aged care homes in regional Victoria.
HWU secretary Diana Asmar said the federal government’s funding model had created a situation where aged care residents were “being enticed to private facilities by glossy brochures and other superficialities and when they move, so does the funding”.
Lyndoch Living chief executive officer Rhys Boyle agreed that funding for homes was diminishing but said federal government plans were creating a surplus of aged care beds in Warrnambool.
Mr Boyle said that when the private Mercy Place Warrnambool added 50 aged care beds, the city would be “overbedded.”
Mr Boyle pointed out that Warrnambool had no public aged care home.
He said Lyndoch Living was community-owned and while it provides some state-funded community services, it was not part of the public system.
The closest public aged care homes are at Moyne Health Services (MHS) in Port Fairy but MHS board chairman Ralph Leutton said its prime concern was not the shift in government funding.
Mr Leutton said his board was reassured by Premier Denis Napthine’s recent statement that his government had no plans to extend privatisation of residential aged care to regional areas.
Mr Leutton said MHS’s main challenge was to follow the federal shift to providing aged care in people’s home rather than in an aged care home.
He said MHS needed to change its business model so long-term care was offered in the homes of the elderly and short-term care in its homes.
Western District Health Services chief executive officer Jim Fletcher said the federal funding for the 173 aged care beds it provided at Hamilton, Penshurst and Coleraine had not matched inflation and this year’s state funding was below the forecast inflation rate.
Mr Fletcher said the service presently had about eight to 10 vacancies for its aged care beds. Hamilton also has a private aged care home.
A spokesman for Mr Napthine disputed the HWU’s claims that state funding for a number of south-west aged care homes had diminished.
The Victorian Coalition had increased funding for Lyndoch Aged Care by $460,000 or 8.1 per cent since 2010, the spokesman said.
He said state funding for Western District Health Services aged care facilities at Hamilton also increased by three per cent in the past financial year.