Radius Care managing director BRIEN CREE is concerned that District Health Boards (DHBs) are not passing on superannuation increases to aged care providers and says it’s time for providers to get their funding directly from the Government, and take DHBs out of the equation.

On 1 April, the Government increased superannuation payments by 2.07 per cent.

We naturally expected that the District Health Boards, who use super to top up the subsidy on behalf of the elderly in our care, would pass this increase on to the aged care sector.

At Radius we planned to put the super increase towards providing improved levels of care and service to those we look after, as I’m sure was the case with other care providers.

So it was with some dismay, following the superannuation increase, that we received a funding increase offer from the DHBs of 0.7 per cent.

If it wasn’t such a serious issue, it might be easy to think 0.7 per cent is a joke. This does not even reflect the rate of inflation, let alone the 2.07 per cent that superannuitants were given.

Effectively, the DHBs have pocketed the increase at the expense of those to whom the money belongs – the elderly. The elderly in our care have a right to expect that all of the pension that is collected by the DHBs should go towards their care, and not into the DHBs’ coffers, or for other unrelated activities such as elective surgery.

The problem is that the DHBs get given bulk funding by the Government, for healthcare services, and they decide how this money will get distributed. Superannuation is not ring-fenced for those elderly it belongs to; it just gets put into the pot, and then the DHBs work out how they want to spend the funds across all healthcare services.

It’s a real concern that care for the elderly gets put at the bottom of the priority list by the DHBs, despite the fact that the sector is growing all the time as people live longer and the population increases.

It’s for this reason that the aged care sector needs to be funded directly by the Government, not through a ‘middle man’ with its own agenda and set of priorities.

Our primary focus is the needs of the elderly, but the same could certainly not be said for the DHBs – as evidenced by the fact that they are refusing to pass on the super increase that rightfully belongs to those we care for.

The only way we can ensure our sector is appropriately funded and those in our care get the service they need and deserve, is if we are funded directly by the Government.

We simply can’t carry on being underfunded and undermined as a sector – elderly people deserve as much care and respect as those at any other stage of life, if not more. What’s more – if we’re lucky – we’ll all get old one day, so by ensuring that the aged care sector receives the funding it needs, we’re also ensuring our own care in the future.

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