We wish to raise an important and contentious issue – aged residential care. Over the past half a dozen or so years, countless councils have decided to hand this responsibility over to the private sector. In Victoria, literally only a handful of councils continue to maintain these services.  Many reasons are behind this move:

  • Increasing costs
  • Increasing maintenance costs
  • Accreditation challenges
  • Adequate staffing costs
  • Whether aged care should even be a local government responsibility

Glen Eira runs 3 accommodation sites providing 173 beds. For the past 2 years alone these facilities have incurred ‘deficits’ of just under $7m. This means that residents are basically subsidising aged care to the tune of approximately $3.5m each year. Is this warranted, much less sustainable?

Please note that we are not advocating any position – either to maintain this service, sell off the assets, or lease the beds  to private hands. We believe that what needs to happen is full community consultation and for council to put all the facts on the table so residents can have a say in the decision making. Thus far this has not occurred. Council has been content to continue losing $3m plus per annum with no proper public announcement, no discussion, and no real explanation as to why this is occurring.

Given these losses it is perhaps fair to ask:

  • Do residents believe that council has the expertise to run such an operation?
  • Do residents believe that such losses per annum are ‘acceptable’ and warranted?
  • Do residents believe that council should maintain its aged care facilities?
  • Do residents believe that private operators can deliver a better service?

When the outcry is continually about cost shifting and rate capping and council after council cries poor, then surely it is time for an open discussion with the community on what the priorities should be. We hasten to add that not only does this apply to aged care but to many other aspects of council’s agenda. Until residents are given a say in determining budget priorities and how ratepayer monies should ideally be spent we are still captive to rule by an unelected bureaucracy!