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Home care queue for older Australians is growing

Industry peak body, Leading Age Services Australia (LASA), believes the recent data from the Government reveals an increasing number of older Australians accessing care in their homes are not getting the level of care they require.

Over 53,000 people in the home care queue have been given an interim package at lower levels than what they require, while waiting for their approved home care package. [Source: Shutterstock]
Over 53,000 people in the home care queue have been given an interim package at lower levels than what they require, while waiting for their approved home care package. [Source: Shutterstock]

In March 2019, there were 129,038 people waiting for a home care package at their approved level of care.

Over 53,000 people in the home care queue have been given an interim package at lower levels than what they need, and the wait times for a higher level package are currently more than 12 months after initial approval for a home care package.

LASA Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Sean Rooney says it is not good enough that there are so many older Australians still waiting for access to the necessary level of in-home care.

“LASA’s data suggests that even those on interim packages often pass away or enter hospital or residential care before receiving the package that they were assessed to need,” says Mr Rooney.

“While the Government has made a noteworthy commitment to release more home care packages, the number of packages being made available to older Australians is still inadequate.

“The continuing shortfall in higher level home care packages is not only impacting on the care available to older Australians, but providers are also facing increased challenges to deliver appropriate services and manage risks associated with unmet care needs.”

Around 75,000 people in the home care queue have been offered access to the Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHSP), but it is difficult to tell whether the CHSP is assisting these people appropriately. 

Home care providers have told LASA that CHSP services funded to provide entry level care are now at capacity.

LASA wants the Government to provide more resources to advance the integration of the home care package program and CHSP.

Mr Rooney says there must be an increase in higher level home care packages, which would ensure the demand from older Australians for home care packages is being met.

“LASA renews its call on the Government to develop a sustainable funding strategy for home care that considers all the available public and private funding levers and to legislate maximum wait times of no more than three months for home care services,” says Mr Rooney.

“There are also interim steps that the Government can take to mitigate the queue, including prioritising those with low means, making it easier for people to use home equity and recycling unspent funds.

“Our sector stands ready to work with the Government to address the urgent issues affecting older Australians and the organisations that care for and support them.”

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