Bringing back the biff to aged care: provider wars

Article published 16 February 2022

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WHEN we previously wrote about the brand new National Aged Care Advisory Council and how it didn’t change anything, we noted how biased Council membership was to providers.

We should add to that: biased to big providers.

The small providers are not represented at all on the Council.

There are two ‘peak’ representative organisations of which smaller aged care providers tend to be members. They also have bigger members, but these bigger members tend to feel they can do a better job representing themselves.

They’re still members out of politeness, you could say.

There’s the Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA) group for smaller not-for-profit religious and charitable providers and Leading Aged Services Australia (LASA) for smaller for-profit providers.

Neither got a look-in at the National Aged Care Advisory Council, while the big guns Opal Care, HammondCare, RSL LifeCare and Uniting Care each got a seat at the table.

It is probably indicative of the Government’s view that aged care providers should consolidate into a few big providers. So much easier to deal with.

Let’s call it the no-more-corner-shops aged care policy.

However, the smaller players are not going quietly.

It’s quite a dance, and it involves the Australian Aged Care Collaboration (AACC).

ACCA members are Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA), a group for smaller not-for-profit religious and charitable providers and Leading Aged Services Australia (LASA). But it also includes Anglicare Australia, Baptist Care Australia, Catholic Health Australia and Uniting Care Australia, and they are, all four of them, big providers, with Uniting Care being a member of the National Aged Care Advisory Council.

ACSA and LASA, describing themselves as “key AACC members”, put out a media release in which they say they “have detailed their commitment to work together, alongside the members of the AACC and other provider groups (such as the Aged Care Reform Network)”.

Don’t be fooled by the pacifist phrasing.

This is war.

Why else would two members of the AACC announce they are going to “work together” and ”alongside” other members if they are all members of the same group formed to do just that?

After all, the last C in AACC stands for: collaboration.

ACSA and LASA have also “committed” to working with the Aged Care Reform Network (ACRN), another lobby group made up of seven large providers: Allity, Uniting Care NSW, Opal, Estia Health, Regis Healthcare, Bolton Clarke and HammondCare. Three of the providers in the ACRN group are members of the big-providers-only National Aged Care Advisory Council.

It’s clear that the small providers are fighting for survival in the face of an undeclared Government policy to encourage and promote consolidation in the aged care sector, which favours big providers.

Also read:

Aged care: new Support at Home program

When inflation spikes and the pension doesn’t


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