Comments on the Closure of Lithgow Aged Care & St Lawrence Aged Care

By Greg Worrall – General Manager, Corporate Services PACE Care


Residential aged care providers across Australia are engaged in a seemingly never-ending battle for survival.

They’re challenged to continue providing much needed care services with significant and ever increasing financial, legislative, compliance and social pressures, against a backdrop of now-chronic under-funding; of poor public image; and an ageing and comparatively (to healthcare) low paid workforce.

The limited and prescriptive funding regime imposed on residential aged care providers is slowly choking the sector. The first to fail are the smaller, community-based and independently operated not-for-profit care providers.

We are seeing this happen right now. Sadly, the experiences of Lithgow Aged Care and St Lawrence Aged Care at Harden will not be last. Without significant change there will be many more.

Small community-based operators cannot benefit from economies of scale, with little or no purchasing power, and do not have the wealth of liquidity or other resources that are available to the larger, often church-based, providers.

In rural and remote regions, the situation is even more dire. Operating a stand-alone service in a local community is even more expensive.

Engaging and retaining professionally skilled and competent staff to meet required management, quality, care and safety standards is a difficult and, at times, seemingly impossible challenge.

Access to skilled support for allied health, professional consultancy, and financial and administrative supports is limited and can be very expensive.

Despite this, community-based care providers do their utmost to hang on to the very last – supported by local volunteers and business operators – recognising the vital role that an aged care facility plays in holding together the very fabric of their community, through love and care for their elders – their mum, dad, uncle, aunty, grandma, grandad, nan or pop.

And when its all too hard we hope that someone with deep pockets comes along and saves the day. And then? When it’s not viable for that organisation, they say, “sorry we have to close”? Their primary connection is not to the community – it is to the organisation and its bottom-line.

Who will provide the capital and infrastructure for aged care in regional, rural and remote areas when all the benevolent community-based providers have gone and the larger corporate operators have closed down local aged care facilities because they are not viable?

PACE Care was founded as a result of collaboration between five independent aged care providers on the Central Coast of New South Wales.

Each organisation shares their corporate support office which provides key financial, payroll, procurement and administrative support services, using standardised software, process and reporting formats.

PACE Care is a strong advocate of collaboration and adopting a shared resource approach.

We believe that this model can be particularly effective and an ideal option for independent community-based care providers at the regional level, particularly in the current operating environment. The old ways of trying to do it all by yourself just don’t work anymore. Its too expensive on your own, whereas under a shared service the costs are shared with other operators.

PACE Care now also provides these services to other care providers.

So, with our proven experience and success, we can talk to individual operators or to interested groups, about sharing our own existing corporate support resources, or about putting something bespoke together for an interested group of operators.

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