Aged care homes are in a holding pattern as they wait for the federal government to roll out a proposed new way to fund the ailing sector.
The latest independent StewartBrown survey shows almost 80 per cent of regional facilities are reported to be running at a loss.
Aged Care Deloraine chief executive Nadine Ozols said she was looking forward to an announcement on the new system.
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"The last few announcements haven't cut the mustard. We're strong advocates for a fundamental change in the funding system," she said.
"One of the big things is adequate recognition of aged care workers as professionals and we need to pay them as such.
"Financially, it is a struggle for us. We're in a holding pattern at the moment."
Aged Care Services Minister Senator Richard Colbeck said the government hadn't yet decided to use the proposed funding model but would consider doing so in response to the Aged Care Royal Commission's recommendations when its report is published on February 26.
Senator Colbeck said the proposed new funding model, the Australian National Aged Care Classification, was trialled last year.
Emmerton Park chief executive Ian Adams said he believed if the federal government were to bring in the new model, it probably would not start until July 2022.
"There would be two streams - a guaranteed income stream, and one for the work you perform," he said.
"I would like to think it would help."
Leading Age Services Australia chief executive Sean Rooney said the proposed model didn't say how much money facilities would get, just how it would be distributed.
"It also only relates to the care component of residential aged care funding, and does not deal with funding for accommodation and hotel services," he said.
He said more operators were struggling, with an eight per cent increase in the number of residential care homes running at a loss in 2019-20, as reported in the latest StewartBrown survey.
"This highlights that, regardless of the [federal] government's funding to help combat the pandemic, there still remains a gaping hole between the rising costs of delivering care, and funds provided to cover these costs," Mr Rooney said.
"It is much worse in regional and remote areas, rising to almost 80 per cent.
"This shows the average operator is now fighting to keep their head above water from a cash perspective, while still working tirelessly to deliver quality care."