The latest data released by the Department of Health, reveals the queue of older Australians seeking home care packages has grown by 16 per cent to more than 121,000 in the last quarter.
The quarterly report showed that at June 30, 2018, 56,750 consumers were waiting to be assigned a package and 64,668 were currently receiving services below their assessed care level while they wait for a higher level package.
Leading Age Services Australia (LASA) Chief Executive Officer Sean Rooney says that with the waiting list for home care packages growing by 13,000 in just three months, the program is struggling to keep up with demand.
“It is clear that the home care package program is facing compounding challenges and that further financial and operational investment is needed to successfully implement these reforms,” says Mr Rooney.
“The latest data shows that almost 57,000 people in the national queue have no home care package support, even at a level below what they need. While some of these people are instead receiving support through the Commonwealth Home Support Program, the level of support offered is less than what they have been assessed as needing.
“The Government strategy appears to be to provide a basic level of care for as many people as possible either through the CHSP or Home Care Packages Programs. This approach overlooks the high needs of many on the waiting list, leading to higher rates of hospitalisation and early entry to residential aged care.
“These impacts run counter to the intention of the Home Care Packages Program in facilitating ‘ageing in place’ for older Australians and it is those who cannot afford to pay extra for the higher level care they have been assessed as needing who are most vulnerable.”
Seasons Aged Care Chief Executive Officer Nick Loudon says that with the system buckling under rapidly increasing demand, it’s important for consumers to understand what aged care options are available to them and make a plan on how they will access the care they need while they are waiting for their assessed level of funding.
“There are care options available while you are waiting for your home care package, but many will involve the client paying directly for these services up front, or as we’re seeing with many of those waiting level 4 packages, they’ll end feeling like they’ve got no other option than to go into residential aged care,” says Mr Loudon.
“A crucial component of the Seasons Model is a funding structure that ensures delivery of the appropriate level of care and support to each individual resident, irrespective of their status within the My Aged Care queue.
“Where access to government subsidised funding is delayed for whatever reason, care and support costs are accrued and deferred (interest free) for the duration of the resident’s stay, meaning the level of care and support the resident receives is not dependent upon the effectiveness of the system, or otherwise. If a resident needs Level 4 high care, that’s exactly what they get.”