Home care providers are urging the review into aged care reforms to address ongoing concerns over lengthy consumer delays in accessing Level 3 and 4 packages and low take up of Level 1 and 2 packages.
Baptist Care Australia told the review there continues to be significant unmet demand for Level 3 and 4 packages even with the release of an additional 6,000 high care packages in the 2015 Aged Care Approvals Round.
In March the Department of Health allocated 93 per cent of new places as high-level packages, and no additional Level 1 packages.
Baptist Care Australia said vacancy rates for Level 2 packages among its members were the highest on record.
“Level 1 packages continue to be a challenge as consumers do not see the value when [the] client contribution is the same as Level 2, 3 and 4,” it wrote in its submission to the Aged Care Legislated Review.
The Presbyterian National Aged Care Network also raised falling occupancy for Level 2 packages as an issue.
Both organisations said the introduction of income-tested care fee arrangements has made lower level home care packages unattractive for many self-funded retirees or part-pensioners who were opting to purchase services privately at a lower cost.
The Presbyterian National Aged Care Network said the current fee arrangements acted as a disincentive for consumers to transition from the Commonwealth Home Support Program to home care.
“The failure to resolve the intersection of the Commonwealth Home Support Program and home care package fees arrangements also acts to artificially dampen demand for higher level home care,” it wrote in its submission to the review.
The Presbyterian National Aged Care Network said it also remained very concerned that delays in assessing people for aged care masked the “true levels of demand” within the older population.
Australian Unity told the review that clients requiring a higher level of care have been unable to receive a Level 3 or 4 package due to a lack of availability and have been topping up base level services through private funds or alternative care options such as the acute care system.
Consumer peak body Alzheimer’s Australia said the pattern of high vacancy in low care packages and waiting lists for high level home care was a concern and impacted timely access to care and support services.
“This pattern is problematic, as low level care previously helped people to start accepting help and introduced them to the system, enabling issues and needs to be addressed early and potentially assisting to delay the onset of complex care needs.”
The Federal Government has announced its intention to merge the Commonwealth Home Support Program and home care packages from July 2018.
The review into the aged care reforms is due to report 1 August 2017.
Past coverage: Home care package levels missing their mark
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