A CRISIS in aged care is looming for residents of Orange and the central west according to candidate for Calare Anthony Craig.
Aged care is the central plank of Mr Craig’s campaign, with the independent candidate arguing the issue is being ignored by the major parties, whose election priorities in the region are jobs and growth.
"The aged-care industry is one of the biggest employers in regional centres and many towns in Calare will suffer if the aged care cuts start," Mr Craig said.
"With deregulation coming who knows what will happen?
"We could even get in fly-by-night operators who open up facilities.”
Mr Craig, who is a resident of Lithgow, said while he doesn't want to be alarmist it is important the public be made aware that cuts to the funding pool which help pay the wages for carers and registered nurses – the Aged Care Funding Tool – will kick in as of July 1.
He said cuts to funding and changes to legislation which mean aged-care facilities will have a choice of whether or not they employ nurses 24/7 after July 1 are a potential disaster.
"We are fighting for survival, losing the ability to fund and care for our senior citizens,” said Mr Craig.
"And the first responsibility of government is to look after its citizens.”
The Allity organisation, which operates Calare Nursing Home and Gosling Creek Aged Care, and Opal Cherrywood Grove both gave assurances to the Central Western Daily in May they were committed to employing registered nurses 24/7.
Director of Uniting Steve Teulan said the organisation, which operates Wontama, is committed to maintaining registered nursing levels in their services and has no intention of reducing all-hours on-site coverage.
Last week Catholic Healthcare, which runs St Vincent's Care Services in Orange, advertised for additional registered nurses.
Mr Craig said while he welcomed the response from Orange's aged-care operators he has already seen staffing cut backs at some aged-care facilities in Calare.
Mr Craig said the management of aged-care residents who require palliative care is an issue which also needs to be closely monitored.
"No one who is receiving good palliative care need to worry about pain or discomfort and as a palliative care volunteer I sometimes have to be an advocate for my client," Mr Craig said.