BARRY Tooley cut his ties with aged care services run by the City of Ballarat late last year and says there is “no way on earth” he will consider going back to the organisation.
Mr Tooley, who suffers chronic back pain and prostate cancer, says poor service and minimal patient care from the council left him with no other option but to ditch the service.
He is one of a large number of aged care clients who have stopped using the home care service in recent months, amid claims of declining patient care within the council-run operation.
Aged care patients and council employees have hit out at the City of Ballarat over its home care program, labelling the council as a “money-hungry” organisation that has little care for its clients.
Mr Tooley and his wife Heather had used the council home care service for 12 years.
However, the married couple of 47 years say the council no longer shows any care for its clients and instead is focusing simply on making money.
Council recently raised its fees for aged care and disability clients by about 25 per cent, which it says is regulated by the Department of Health.
The Tooley’s thoughts are even echoed by a council employee, who is noticing major holes in council’s care program.
The couple stopped using the council service just before Christmas and say their new carer organisation is not only cheaper, but shows much more care for people such as themselves.
“The whole attitude (of the council) is wrong. They don’t care about their clients,” Mr Tooley said. “I wouldn’t go back to the council service even if there was nowhere else to go.”
A Ballarat City Council aged care worker, who wished to remain anonymous, claimed council cared more about money than patient care.
He said restrictions on time carers spent with patients meant they were unable to do their job properly, short-changing those in desperate need of care.
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The carer said there were at least 100 clients that had stopped using council services in the past six months, citing excessive fees and poor service as main reasons.
“The bottom line for the council is becoming far more important than the proper care of these patients and that’s not right,” he said.
“With the ageing population this is something that is going to become more and more relevant.”
Between 2004 and 2010, elderly citizens aged over 85 increased in number by more than 500 from 1416 to 1721, according to Australian Bureau of Statistics data.
The massive increase in aged citizens meant council could easily afford to lose a significant number of patients, because there would always be more elderly replacements, said the carer.
“They don’t care, there will always be more clients to pay the money. It’s frustrating, we simply aren’t able to give these people the proper care they need,” the carer said.
A City of Ballarat spokesperson said council continued to heavily invest money in the aged care program. He said all fees and prices were determined by the Department of Health and not by council itself.
“Council has committed an additional $1 million to the delivery of home and community care services this financial year,” the spokesperson said.
Ballarat MP and Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Ageing Catherine King declined to comment on the issue.