On holidays from your nursing home

Article published 11 August 2020

On holidays from your nursing home

NURSING home residents not wishing to remain in residential care because of concerns about COVID-19 are able to leave without losing their “place”.

Normally, nursing home residents can be absent for 51 days in one year without losing their place. This is to allow for, for example, hospital stays.

It means that nursing home residents who (1) have somewhere to go and (2) can get the care they need there, can stay away without being penalised.

It sounds good, but how many nursing home residents these days are in a nursing home if they could get the care they need outside a nursing home?

Also, how many nursing home residents have family or friends able and willing to take them in?

There is something else weird about the extension of nursing home leave, quite apart from the fact that it makes residential aged care sound like the army.

Occupancy rates in nursing homes have fallen to below 90 per cent. The idea of residents requiring leave in order not to lose their “place” originates from the time that nursing home occupancy rates were 98 per cent or more. At 98 per cent occupancy, a nursing home is full. Vacancies due to the few days it takes to replace residents that have died accounts for the remaining 2 per cent.

In other words, the idea of nursing home leave is outdated.

Also, even though a nursing home resident can now go on leave for as long as they want, the nursing home fees and charges simply continue, not just the accommodation charges but care charges and daily-living charges as well.

The Government has also announced that “upon returning to the community, residential aged care clients can contact My Aged Care and arrange a referral to access short-term and entry-level services through the Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP) for up to eight weeks without a formal assessment”.

So, any home support the evacuating resident can get is limited to eight weeks. That’s entry-level care. If you need more complex care, you’re on your own.

Meanwhile, for all the time you are away from a nursing home, the nursing home operator gets the money they normally get. No inconvenience to the provider at all.

It seems the well-being of the provider is a whole lot more important to the Government than the well-being of the resident and their family.

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