More than eight out of ten people in the Eden-Monaro region want the Federal Government to provide the aged care system with more funding, according to a new poll.
The poll is part of a new campaign, Fight for Better Aged Care, being launched in the region this week to raise awareness of Australia’s broken aged care system and to improve the quality of life for thousands of older Australians.
Pat Garcia, CEO of Catholic Health Australia, which is behind the Fight For Better Aged Care campaign, said it was high time that all political parties and candidates stood up for older Australians and demanded an urgent funding injection. "Older Australians are being let down across the Eden-Monaro region because the aged sector is operating on life support. Funding has not kept up with demand or with what older Australians deserve at this time in their lives, and costs are rising faster than funding,” said Mr Garcia.
"It's time to change that and we need the support of everyone living in the region. Those of you with parents in homes who see the conditions too many people live in, carers who are desperately waiting for support, and all of us who will one day need care and to be treated with dignity.
“Our polling shows there is overwhelming support to fix our aged care system and for it to be properly funded. It's time to call on our politicians at this critical time and put aged care on the political map."
The uComms survey conducted solely in the Eden-Monaro region asked nearly 700 people if the government should provide the aged care system with more funding. More than eighty percent agreed with the need for more funding, with just five per cent disagreeing. There was even more support for people aged 51-65 with around 85 per cent backing a funding injection for the aged care sector.
Gerard Hayes, Secretary of the Health Services Union which represents thousands of workers in the aged care sector, has also backed the campaign.
“We already knew how short-changed our aged care homes are but COVID-19 has seriously sharpened the focus. Older Australians built this country. They gave us the prosperity and fairness that make Australia such an excellent place to live. We owe it to them to properly fund aged care, so they can enjoy dignity and comfort in retirement,” said Mr Hayes.
Data shows that almost 70 per cent of aged care homes in rural regional NSW are in danger of closing because of severe funding shortages. People living in the NSW's Southern Highland Aged Care Planning Region (which covers Eden-Monaro) are also struggling to receive home care packages. Around 1,200 older people who have been assessed as needing home care support are either receiving no services or are receiving fewer services than their assessed need.
The awareness campaign calling for Australians to take the pledge to Fight For Better Aged Care has been backed by aged care providers across the region. People in the Eden-Monaro area are also being urged to write to their candidates in the upcoming by-election and share their support of the Fight For Better Aged Care campaign on social media.
“Our team from Blakeney Lodge in Tumut is providing quality and safe care for our residents, however, it would be wonderful to be able to do even more with appropriate aged care funding. We would love to be able to update our building," said Kerry Kelly, manager at Blakeney Lodge in Tumut.
"We would also really appreciate extra funding to train and mentor the next generation of aged care workers, sharing valuable skills needed for the sustainable delivery of high-quality aged care.”
“Our residents tell us that they don’t desire a mansion with shag pile carpets and chandeliers, what they love about living in our home is the simplicity, respect, time given and the support to be themselves.”
Mr Garcia added: “It has become almost accepted, normal even, for our aged care staff to be overworked and undervalued, that we spend less than other countries on aged care and that some of the most vulnerable people in our society have become invisible. We can fix this but we need every Australian to take the pledge and help us Fight For Better Aged Care.“
The Interim Report of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety has outlined a series of shortcomings in aged care, which if addressed, would immediately help the sector and see conditions improved for senior Australians, including more funding for home care packages and better services.
You can take the Better Aged Care pledge and contact all of the Eden-Monaro candidates here betteragedcare.org.au
Catholic Health Australia is the largest non-government provider grouping of health, community and aged care services in Australia.