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Labor to tackle aged care crisis in Western Australia.



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Kim Beazley - Labor To Tackle Aged Care Crisis In Western Australia

http://www.alp.org.au//media/1001/kbmswaage221001.html Monday, 22 October 2001

ALP News Statements

Labor To Tackle Aged Care Crisis In Western Australia Kim Beazley - Leader of the Opposition

Media Statement - 22 October 2001

The Howard Government has created an aged care crisis in Western Australia. Only Labor has a comprehensive plan to tackle this crisis by delivering the nursing home beds and quality care that our frail aged need and deserve.

John Howard and Bronwyn Bishop have created a shortage of 900 aged care beds in Western Australia, and the problem is getting worse. In the last year alone the deficit - relative to the government's own target - increased by 160 beds.

We now have bed shortages in most areas of the State but acute shortages in the Southern Metro and the South West, the Midlands and Mid West, and the Great Southern Region.

As a result, waiting times for nursing home care have doubled in the past three years and the elderly in regional WA are being forced to leave their local communities in order to get a nursing home bed.

The Howard Government has done nothing to address the crisis:

over the last two years Perth has received just three new nursing home beds; ●

there are now 131 older people waiting in Perth public hospitals because they can't get a nursing home bed and another 91 in 'Care Awaiting Placement' facilities; ●

in the Pilbara, the Government has offered aged care bed licences, but with real cuts to care funding no one is prepared to build the beds; ●

in Kalgoorlie, the Moran Group will close a nursing home on 31 December and a new Anglicare facility will not be ready before late 2002. In the interim, 35 elderly residents will be forced to move to Perth or other centres to obtain the care they need;

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a recent report from the WA Nurses Board identified serious risks to resident care arising from shortages of qualified staff and unsafe administration of medication. ●

This may be good enough for John Howard and Bronwyn Bishop, but it is not good enough for Labor. Labor's Plan for Aged Care provides specific solutions to each of these problems:

Labor will provide $200 million in interest-free loans to get new beds built in areas where there are shortages. Labor's loans will deliver beds to regional and remote WA where providers will not build under current funding arrangements.

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Western Australia will receive its fair share of the $160 million Labor has committed to improving quality care. A large proportion of this increased care funding will be used to improve wages and conditions for aged care staff, and to tackle the wages gap between nurses in aged and acute care.

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Labor's minimum staffing guidelines will ensure that on every shift, in every nursing home, there will be enough qualified staff with the time to deliver quality care. ●

Labor will fund 'convalescent care' for older people waiting in hospital for a nursing home bed. Hospitals will now receive the funds that the nursing home would have received if a bed had been available. As a result, older people will be able to convalesce in a more appropriate care environment while acute care beds will be freed up for others in the community.

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Labor's plan will put the 'care' back into aged care in Western Australia after five years of neglect. It will ensure that our frail aged can get a nursing home bed in their local community when they need one.

Labor's guarantee is that all older Australians will be cared for with respect and dignity. Unlike John Howard, Labor believes that the elderly in the West deserve nothing less.

Authorised by Geoff Walsh, 19 National Circuit, Barton ACT 2600.