The residents of nursing homes who are confined to their rooms during COVID are analogous to hypothetical tenants who are barred from exiting their rooms by their landlords – unable to take showers, unable to prepare anything other than sandwiches for meals, and cut off from visitors and socializing with their fellow residents.
If this happened to tenants, they would have the right to stop paying rent, file an appeal with the court, or vacate the premises. Residents of long-term care facilities, on the other hand, must continue to pay.
In response to the COVID outbreak, the Commonwealth has launched an investigation on deaths among residents; however, this narrow focus ignores the larger impacts of the pandemic on people’s quality of life.
What do inhabitants have to pay, and for what do they pay it?
Residents of nursing homes and assisted living facilities pay what is known as a Basic Daily Fee. This is established at 85 percent of the single-age pension in order to cover expenses like meals, laundry, and other necessities of daily living. At the moment, it costs $53.56 each day.
Approximately half of the population also pays for housing on a means-tested basis, either through an upfront Refundable Accommodation Deposit (RAD) or a rent-like Daily Accommodation Payment (DAP).
It is possible to get your RAD back in full 14 days after your residence has moved out. The interest is what keeps the house afloat. The average RAD is less than A$500,000 (Australian dollars). Some have a value in excess of $1 million.
Both the RAD and DAP are determined by the supplier, within the confines of Commonwealth regulations.
Those entering residential care are increasingly opting to pay through the DAP, which is similar to renting an apartment, rather than through the RAD.
Following the changes, more prospective residents, their families, and counselors are becoming aware that the financial commitment of a RAD may not be the most advantageous option if the stay ends up being shorter rather than longer than anticipated.
Because of a few extremely extended visits, the average length of stay is skewed. While the average length of stay is nearly three years, the median (normal) length of stay is half that amount of time. Approximately 30% of residents vacate the premises after six months, primarily due to death.
The Commonwealth pays an accommodation supplement to entirely or partially cover the costs of providing housing to persons who are unable to afford either the full RAD or the full DAP, respectively.
The supplement, which costs $59.49 a day at the moment, serves as a proxy for the average DAP.
All told, it costs $791.35 each week, yet it’s difficult to relocate.
A resident who pays the Basic Daily Fee, as well as a Daily Accommodation Charge equivalent to the supplement, will pay a total of $791.35 in weekly expenses.
However, for many individuals who are restricted to their rooms, the $374.92 per week Basic Daily Fee represents reimbursement for services that are no longer fully provided.
For these people, a significant portion of the Refundable Accommodation Deposit or Daily Accommodation Payments is utilized to cover the cost of accommodations that will not be used entirely.
They have the option of filing a complaint with the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission. However, because each resident has a separate agreement with the provider, it would have to be done one-on-one rather than in a group setting to ensure compliance.
Even in the best of circumstances, the ability to move has been restricted. Aside from the emotional turmoil involved, locating a vacancy, arranging financial arrangements, and obtaining a refund for a RAD all take time and effort to accomplish.
The Commonwealth, providers, and even the Council on Ageing define what we have as a “consumer-driven, market-based aged care system,” despite the fact that consumers are unable to drive themselves.
There is a paucity of negotiating power, and individual complaints to the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission are infrequent and insignificant. So far, no one has mentioned the possibility of a class-action lawsuit.
The elimination of Refundable Accommodation Deposits, as proposed by aged care royal commissioner Lynelle Briggs in March 2021, would be a good place to start.
This would imply that residents had not effectively pre-paid their rent in one lump payment as required by law.