Following the recent announcements that Wesley Mission intends to shut three aged care services in Sylvannia, Carlingford, and Narrabeen, this should serve as a wake up call to politicians at all levels of government, that we need more government run aged care facilities not less. Historically Local Government were one of the largest providers of aged care services, whether it be through care facilities, home care services and independent living arrangements.

There was an identified need to provide care services for our elderly in our community and local government filled this void. It is only in more recent years with deregulation and a government mantra of privatisation that there was a fast growth in for profit aged care services, and those being run by non for profit organisations, breaking down the government run industry that was highly regulated and focused on community outcomes rather than making profit.

The breakdown in publicly owned aged care saw a direct correlation with reduced quality of services provided to our elderly. This was demonstrated in the aged care royal commission which demonstrated publicly owned aged care carried an average of double the amount of qualified nurses, double the amount of care hours and close to half the number of incidents in for profit and non for profit aged care.

This turns the eye to the current local issue of Blue Haven Care. As many are aware this is one of the largest publicly owned aged care facilities in NSW, while all current papers suggest in the wake of covid and understaffing issues the service is not making profit, the same as 70% of the aged care industry, it provides the certainty of a secure environment that our elderly are cared for without the fear of the residents being suddenly without a home as is the case with the residents of Wesley Mission. Any sale of Blue Haven provides no certainty in the long run that the new owner won’t do the same thing and sell off what could be seen to be prime real estate in Kiama. This potentially in the long term may place residents and their families at serious risk.

Our current aged care industry is a clear failing on all levels of government. The whole notion of deregulation and privatization has seen a reduction in our services. There needs to be intervention from both State and Federal Government to provide security to our aged care residents. There is a need for services to go back into public hands run by state government or through our councils and the joint regional organisations in our local government areas, to provide certainty for the most vulnerable in our community. It is simply not good enough to focus on profitability and shirk our responsibility to provide secure homes and care to our elderly, as societies greatest measure is how you treat your must vulnerable.

Stuart Geddes
Industrial Officer
United Services Union