Industry peak body Leading Age Services Australia is calling on the Federal Government to address a series of significant implementation issues arising from the latest home care reforms.
The peak body has written to the ministers for aged care, human services and the prime minister with a list of 38 recommendations to resolve key outstanding problems facing the sector.
Major concerns raised by providers include the ongoing reduced uptake of home care packages by consumers under the new system, assessment delays, a lack of access to high-level home care packages and persistent subsidy payment issues.
LASA said seven months into the new national system for assigning packages to consumers, home care providers are continuing to report a “significant downturn” in active packages.
The Department of Health has assigned over 65,000 packages to consumers through My Aged Care, however official data has not yet been released on the number of consumers that have taken up their assigned package.
Some providers have also reported a reduction in available staffing hours and increased workforce turn over due to a drop in package take-up, LASA said in its report handed to government.
LASA repeated its call for the government to increase the support and information available to consumers who are struggling to activate their package under the new system.
Delays in accessing an aged care assessment – reported to be up to six months in some regions – also impacted timely access to care and support for consumers and required urgent attention, said LASA.
The peak urged the Department of Health to review the resourcing of ACATs to ensure timely assessments can take place and consider tendering out the work of underperforming ACATs to other groups such as Primary Health Networks.
Unmet demand for home care draining CHSP resources
LASA also expressed concern over the impact of unmet demand for home care packages on Commonwealth Home Support Program resources.
The peak body said it held concerns over the sustainability of redirecting consumers requiring home care packages to the CHSP as an interim strategy.
Some CHSP providers were reporting staffing and program outputs were now exceeding their block-funded grant agreements due to an increase in referrals from clients with high-level care needs, LASA said.
It said it was concerned CHSP providers would not have sufficient funds to respond to demand for CHSP services in the second half of the financial year.
Providers are also continuing to report payment system problems resulting in the accumulation of significant unpaid subsidies. One provider has reported close to $125,000 in unpaid subsidies since February, LASA said.
Incorrect home care package withdrawals, which has been an ongoing issue since February, have also resulted in unpaid subsidies to providers, it said.
The peak also called for the government to release the formal evaluation of the Regional Assessment Service for the CHSP submitted to the department in June and to review RAS referral patterns to ensure the impartiality of home support assessment and referral.
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