Sunnyside House staff launched a protest campaign on Friday, calling for a reversal of mounting funding cuts to the aged care sector.
According to Leading Age Services Australia (LASA), the aged care sector’s representative body, said the Federal Government has cut $3.1 billion for the aged care sector.
Sunnyside House chief executive officer Rob Hemley said $1.9 billion in funding cuts had already been imposed, while a further $1.2 billion would be cut over the next four years.
“For Sunnyside House, the first round of cuts equated to in excess of $100,000 which we have already absorbed,” he said.
“The second round will equate to about $200,000 cut from Sunnyside’s budget.
“The only way to accommodate that kind of budget shortfall is to dip into our capital reserves, and of course, if we do that, it means other projects get put on the back burner.”
Sunnyside House Board of Management chairperson Jill Anderson said the funding cuts had already had a direct impact.
“We were looking at building a dementia specific wing here,” she said.
“The board decided this week to put that project on hold indefinitely, partly because of the huge funding cuts we’re going to face.”
Of particular concern was the impact of the Federal Government’s funding cuts on the care of seniors with complex health care needs.
“The cuts target services such as medication assistance, pain relieving treatments, and other care interventions for the most frail and unwell residents,” Mrs Anderson said.
“Extra funding used to be provided as the care level required for an individual increased, and that’s not the case now.
“But I want to make it clear that while the funding has been cut, Sunnyside House will still provide all the necessary care, we’ll just have to find a way to pay for it ourselves.
“Providing the best care of our patients will always be our main priority.”
Mrs Anderson said Sunnyside House would be able to absorb the funding cuts in the short-term, but worried about the long-term.
“We’re very lucky to have posted a budget surplus over the last few years, so we have a little bit of leeway, but that won’t last forever,” she said.
“Smaller aged care providers who are already struggling financially, may well find they can’t survive.”
Statistics also show that 15 per cent of Australians were now aged over 85 and that one in three suffered dementia and required higher level care.
Mr Hemley and Mrs Anderson called on the Camperdown community to show its support and back Sunnyside House in its push for funding to be reinstated.
Mrs Anderson asked people to write letters to Member for Wannon Dan Tehan or to call into the Sunnyside House Op Shop where a petition would be located.
“We really need the wider community to rally on this one,” she said.
“We’re committed to providing the best care possible for our senior citizens.”
Sunnyside House’s protest action falls in line with a national campaign led by LASA to reinstate the funding.