Southern Cross care continues to deliver high-quality care, in spite of financial woes of sector

CATHOLIC HEALTH AUSTRALIA

Catholic Health Australia has defended the record of Tasmania’s largest aged care provider, Southern Cross Care, as it adjusts to a new funding regime and continues to offer excellent care despite the massive financial headwinds facing the sector.

Southern Cross is one of 60% of aged care providers operating in regional Australia at a loss, according to accountancy firm StewartBrown, and a new study by University of Technology Sydney Ageing Research Collaborative today confirmed that nursing homes racked up losses of $2.75bn in the past three years.

CHA CEO Pat Garcia said it is unfair to single out one provider in order to send a signal to the broader sector when that one operator continues to invest in its services and deliver care, above and beyond the stipulated levels.

“Southern Cross Care has been providing excellent quality of care to Tasmanians for generations and it takes its responsibility to residents, staff and families very seriously,” he said.

“Despite financial losses, it continues to invest in new services for its 650 residents, including new on-site kitchens that will deliver better quality food. It is also giving residents more control over their type of care with a new model that aims to replicate a home-like environment.

“The provider is already delivering nursing coverage on a 24-hour seven day a week basis and is on track to meet the 200 minutes of care that will be mandated in a little under a year from now.”

Mr Garcia said the larger policy solution is to value our excellent enrolled nurses by allowing them to contribute to nurse care minutes requirements.

“Letting enrolled nurses contribute to the 40 nurse care minutes will ease the burden on registered nurses and help providers find enough staff,” he said.

“Enrolled nurses are more than capable of performing daily care including taking blood pressure tests and developing clinical care plans. We should allow them to continue performing those duties by recognising them in the 40 nurse care minutes.”

From October 2023, aged care facilities must provide 200 minutes of daily care per resident, including 40 minutes with a registered nurse. These figures will increase to 215 and 44 from October 2024. Additionally, every aged care facility will need a Registered Nurse on duty 24/7 from July 2023.

CHA modelling has projected that the entire sector will need more than 6,000 additional registered nurses and nearly 10,000 personal care workers to meet the new requirements.

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