Aged care crisis looms

An aged care crisis is imminent without a reclassification of Broken Hill under the Modified Monash Model (MMM), residents and Council have declared.

Both the public gallery and the Broken Hill City Council are concerned that unless the Silver City is moved from level three to level six on the MMM (a scale that measures a city’s ‘remoteness’) our aged care system is under threat.

Invitations are currently being dispatched to state and federal ministers, including Federal Minister for Health and Aged Care Mark Butler, to assess the issue firsthand.

“[An upgrade to MMM 6] will allow those facilities to get extensions on registered nurse ratios. This will make the 30 to 40 beds that are currently unused immediately accessible,” Mayor Tom Kennedy said after the most recent Council meeting.

Broken Hill resident Douglas Coff addressed the Council about his personal experience in navigating care for his elderly mother. He spoke about the difficulties his family faced in finding her adequate local care.

With the hospital already at full capacity and aged care facilities unable to take new patients, Mr Coff was informed that the best-case scenario would be relocating his mother to a hospital hundreds of kilometres away. This would likely result in long-term harm due to her isolation.

Fortunately for Mr Coff, his family avoided this scenario. However, the issue is pervasive; other elderly individuals in Broken Hill are encountering similar challenges due to severe understaffing.

The root of the problem lies in the city’s classification under the MMM. The model measures remoteness and population size on a scale of MM1 to MM7. MM1 is a major city while a classification of MM7 indicates a town ‘very remote’.

Astonishingly, Broken Hill has a lesser MMM rating (MM3) than some larger cities that are closer to metropolitan areas.

In his search for an alternative care facility, Mr Coff was advised to look ‘the next suburb over’ illustrating a lack of awareness about Broken Hill’s geographical remoteness by government agencies.

Broken Hill City Council aims to educate the government on this issue by inviting representatives to visit. The objective is to lobby for an upgrade in Broken Hill’s classification to MM6.

“I think it is really important for the minister to come out here and see for themselves the isolation in this area,” Cllr Kennedy continued.

There is a glimmer of hope; Broken Hill recently saw its classification upgraded from level three to level six in the NDIS.

“The Government acknowledged in that area (NDIS) that Broken Hill is rural, remote, or regional. I have no doubt that, at some point, they will have to do the same for aged care. But it needs to happen sooner rather than later,” concluded Mr Kennedy.

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