Council supports in the face of aged care changes

Published on 16 February 2022

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Today, Southern Cross Care NSW & ACT (SCC) have announced their difficult decision to close the Currawarna Residential Aged Care Facility in Bombala. The SCC decision announced today refers to the widely acknowledged, unprecedented and ongoing challenges the sector is facing, particularly in regional and remote locations throughout Australia. This is a decision by a private operator and is not linked to any services or residential aged care facilities operated by Snowy Monaro Regional Council.

The core challenge as announced by SCC in delivering sustainable residential aged care services in Bombala has been the inability to hire the required numbers of full-time staff members, including registered nurses.

Snowy Monaro Regional Council Mayor Narelle Davis has contacted local Members of Parliament, Ministers and relevant agencies to organise a roundtable to work on sustainable solutions for the underlying issues that have resulted in this decision. Workforce availability and low pay is a significant factor affecting aged care facilities. This issue was highlighted in the Aged Care Royal Commission and has not been addressed by the Federal Government. Council has written to the Federal Minister for Aged care and Minister for Health requesting they address the critical issues affecting the viability of rural aged care facilities immediately.

“Council’s priority is to ensure that there is a viable aged care sector available across the entire Snowy Monaro region.” the Mayor said.

SCC has today been in contact with Council to schedule meetings to discuss the future of the residents and staff of Currawarna to identify the capacity of Council’s residential aged care facilities to house residents and employ staff who may be interested in relocating to Yallambee Lodge or Snowy River Hostel.

The reasons behind the closure, reasons being experienced across NSW and Australia, are of utmost concern to SMRC and are being experienced in our residential aged care facilities. Staff shortages, workforce challenges and the rising costs of delivering services are matters we are addressing every day. To ensure the long-term sustainability of residential aged care services within the Snowy Monaro, Council is working closely with Sapphire Coast Community Aged Care through an extended due diligence period.

In relation to staff shortages and increasing costs, Council is in discussion with leaders at the NSW and Federal level to identify local and regional initiatives such as traineeships and scholarships that will provide opportunities to increase the numbers of trained aged care staff and nurses in our region.

Council is committed to ensuring the sustainable provision of residential aged care services within our region and over coming months will provide support to Currawarna to ensure options exist for residents and staff.