More than 100,000 wait for home care
- Created on Thursday, 04 January 2018 11:29
An article in The Senior has highlighted a home care system in crisis as package queue blows out. Giving credence to our argument that without local government our home care is poorer - poorer in quality standards, poorer for lack of skilled and experienced workforce and poorer for the loss of funding. It is a disgrace that our elderly families, friends and neighbours are faced with deteriorating levels of care when there is time to change course and keep the Victorian model of council-run home care - the best performing community care system in the country.
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Australia’s home care system is plunging into a deepening crisis, with more than 100,000 elderly people waiting for a home care package.
The staggering figure represents a 14 per cent increase on the previous quarter – leading one industry expert to say the system faced “compounding challenges.”
The government's much-vaunted Increasing Choice in Home Care reforms introduced in February last year; shifted the choice and control of home care packages from providers to consumers.
However, its introduction was not without problems – and figures released after the first quarter of its operation showed almost 90,000 people waiting for a home care package.
Leading Age Services Australia chief executive Sean Rooney said the reforms were “absolutely right in principle, but were being challenged by the implementation of significant system changes, whilst also straining to keep up with growing demand”.
The data released by the Department of Health in December showed that of the 101,508 people waiting for an appropriate home care package at September 30, 79,000 were in a queue for a high-level (level 4) package and 41,000 were receiving a lower level package than they were assessed as needing.
The report says that there were 766 approved home care packages, a 4.2 per cent increase in the quarter.
The average maximum exit fee, if consumers chose to change providers, was $279, with almost 40 per cent of providers indicating they would not deduct an exit fee.
The data has prompted Council on the Ageing Australia to again call for urgent action to address the shortfall in high level packages.
“It’s in the government’s interest to support more high level home care packages as too many people are still going into residential care just because they cannot get a high care package.
Even high level home care packages cost the government less than residential places, as government picks up the accommodation costs for about 40 per cent of resident.”
In the short term, Mr Yates said that there must be an allocation of extra funds to bridge the gap – a sentiment echoed by National Seniors chief advocate Ian Henschke.
“We have the evidence. If the numbers of people on the waiting list are growing by more than 10,000 in three months there is something wrong.
We know the need is there and it’s only going to get greater. It’s better for people to stay in their own homes than go into aged care.”
Mr Henschke said he had heard of people waiting more than a year for a package.
“This is not an issue that should ghettoised. It’s not just about older people – it’s a family issue and a community issue.”
Opposition spokeswoman on ageing Julie Collins said the government should use the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook to address the crisis. “Older Australians awaiting home care packages deserve to know when they will get access to these vital services,” she said.
Refusing to accept responsibility for the damning figures, Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt blamed “the aged care mess left by Labor”.
“The Turnbull government inherited home care system settings and supply ratios that were woefully inadequate. Under the old system many of the people waiting for home care packages were really in limbo. Now we know the trues numbers and we are committed to extending their home care options providing customers with greater choice and control.”