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Possible sale of St Vincent de Paul (NSW) Aged Care Services.

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Senator the Hon Santo Santoro Minister for Ageing


10 November 2006

Possible sale of St Vincent de Paul (NSW) Aged Care Services

Media reports this morning have referred to the possible divestment by the St Vincent de Paul Society of its New South Wales aged care facilities.

This decision has been linked in some media reports to the Federal Government’s building code requirements, which were agreed with industry and which come into force from 2008.

The Government makes no apology for the building certification standards, which are designed to protect the safety and the dignity of residents of aged care. The 2008 certification standards set maximum limits for the number of residents per room, and the number of toilets and showers available to residents. There are also building requirements relating to additional fire safety.

All these targets were negotiated with the aged care industry as part of a 10-year plan for building standards agreed in 1999.

The Howard Government has provided all aged care homes with funding support to meet the building safety and privacy requirements. This funding was allocated to homes in June 2004 on the basis of $3500 for each resident. The total cost of this measure was $513.3 million.

The sale of residential aged care homes from one provider to another is not uncommon in the aged care sector, and should not impact on the standard of care provided.

The expected standard of service for residential aged care is set out in law, and enforced by the Aged Care Standards and Accreditation Agency. These standards apply equally to non-profit providers such as St Vincent de Paul and to private organisations.

Transfers between owners only occurs after approval is granted by the Department of Health and Ageing, which then closely monitors the changeover to ensure that the care and safety of residents is not compromised.

I note that St Vincent de Paul believes poor elderly people in New South Wales will be “amply catered for” after the Society’s withdrawal from aged care, as a result of the safety net provisions put in place by the Howard Government and the strong growth in aged care.

Media contact: Malcolm Cole - 0408 612 603

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