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Home care data reveals 90,000 package shortfall


Nearly 90,000 older Australians approved for a home care package are unable to access the care they need, the first-ever data on unmet consumer demand for packages has revealed.

According to a Department of Health report released today, over 53,000 consumers were waiting to be assigned a package at 30 June and a further 35,000 people on the national queue were making do on a lower-level package while waiting for their assessed level of care.

The report showed 67,000 older people nationally were waiting to receive a Level 3 or 4 package.

Due to the high demand for packages, the Federal Government said most consumers could expect a maximum wait time of “more than 12 months”.

For the first time since the introduction of the new national prioritisation system on 27 February, clients are able to access their individual expected wait times in bands of three months by phoning the My Aged Care contact centre or viewing their client record online.

The chief executive of COTA Australia Ian Yates said the shortfall in available packages was “far greater than most expected” and the pressure placed on consumers and families assessed as requiring care was unsustainable.

In response to increasing demand for high-level home care, the Minister for Aged Care Ken Wyatt announced on Thursday the government would release an additional 6,000 high-level home care packages this financial year within the existing funding envelope.

This measure is cost-neutral and will be achieved by converting unused low-level packages to higher level ones.

At 30 June 2016, there were 10,600 unoccupied Level 1 and Level 2 packages.

The sector has been calling for the government to change the mix of available home care packages to better meet the demand for high care and this rebalancing of packages was also a recommendation of the Tune Review tabled on Thursday.

Mr Yates welcomed the government’s commitment to changing the current mix of home care packages and urged the government to also implement the Tune Review’s recommendation to temporarily re-allocate unoccupied residential places to home care.

Aged and Community Services Australia CEO Pat Sparrow said the level of unmet demand for packages supported the strong case for increasing the government’s overall investment in home care.

“ACSA wants to see a balanced aged care system that supports the care needs of all older Australians allowing those with higher care needs to access services but not at the expense of those requiring lower level care,” she said.

According to the department’s report, the national queue grew by 10 per cent (7,908) over the four-month period between 27 February and 30 June, reflecting growing demand for community aged care.

The number of consumers waiting on the queue without a home care package at any level decreased by 11.5 per cent over this period.

The government’s first report on the new system did not provide information on the number of consumers who have taken up their assigned package.

At 31 March 2017, there were 70,000 consumers receiving a home care package.

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4 Responses to Home care data reveals 90,000 package shortfall

  1. Maria Berry September 15, 2017 at 5:10 pm #

    We also need to recognise that over 3 million people are not using digital technology. They are not logging onto information. Dependent on the area they are living in eg: rurally or remotely they are reliant on the information coming from GP’s , and other services they may access. The 10 minute consultation may not provide the information or give opportune time for the required questions. Is there a person of trust or advocate present to ask ? Sadly we are seeing so many carers aged themselves or family advocates at breaking point . When at crisis point and services not ther in place …it effects both parties significantly . My older friend for example that went through all I have mentioned above with her own health issues finally received the home care package for her husband. Her husband had passed away a month ago in a residential care facility with dementia, diabetes and other chronic issues to be given ” finally ” a level of a home care package which in no way covered or accommodated his needs . (If he had been alive) . My friend put off having her own health care needs attended to as she was not supported or able too. The focus is coming back on a lot more on family and community support . It is a real issue. Pouring more money into My AgedCare …we need to look at pouring money into a more grass roots level where it will benefit all those with no digital experience or access and limited services and information in areas of isolation. We don’t all live in Metroplitan with the transport or choice.

  2. Rosemary Doolan September 16, 2017 at 2:07 pm #

    Maria, I agree wholeheartedly with your comments.
    How are we supposed to manage while we wait for twelve months before we get a package in place? The government has its head in the clouds as usual! As for My Aged Care is a total waste of taxpayers money. As you say, the money would be better used at the grassroots level instead of a government organisation that is inefficient and ineffective and top heavy!

  3. Wendy Smith September 16, 2017 at 7:17 pm #

    This proof that a) our Government does not think ahead, as they knew that the ageing population is growing at an alarming rate back when I was in Nursing School in mid 1980’s, and
    b) Aged care is being put right at the bottom of Government ‘s agenda.
    Disgusting in a so-called developed country such as ours.

  4. At the coalface September 17, 2017 at 1:48 pm #

    Ok, so under the old system – guess what happened? We contacted people, we had their information on hand, we visited, we completed an assessment and provided them services. Thanks to case management we held their hand through various challenges, we got them reassessed, we talked to them about their care options and because we were being funded, we could spend the time with no vested interest helping them decide what was best for them. We could give them an indication of when their high care package would be available because we had certainty (internal waitlists). We would pull strings and be creative with their funds to give them what they needed and what did we get? The satisfaction and gratitude from so many clients, families and carers.
    Under the new system, we spend a lot of time speaking with people trying to compare apples and oranges (even though technically we all have the same legislative responsibilities) for concepts they don’t understand. We don’t receive updated information about them. Then we have to contact a call centre who read off a sheet and then have the audacity to send clients auto generated letters saying their package has been withdrawn, or tell them their assigned package will expire without giving them on the ground advice, or even get some basic details about their finances so they can tell them what fees they’re likely to pay! Guess who cops this workload? ACAS and local providers! So once we get through all of that relatively unscathed, we work with clients and families to design services the way they want, but yet we’re on a different playing field – because these clients have all deteriorated since previous assessments and now have to put up with a paltry low level of service at a much higher cost – so they opt out and the pressure sits squarely back with Council CHSP.
    And yet, while this is all going on, the Government throws the blame squarely on providers even though it expects them to pick up the pieces and keep these people out of residential care and hospital departments. My job used to be about employing specific expertise in supporting people (counselling, coaching, advice) to remain at home and now it can be glorified administration for days. It’s also great when people who have absolutely no way to understand a concept as abstract as packages expect providers to deliver and monitor the services for absolutely nothing. I guess this ties in nicely with the workforce challenges also experienced. So, make your minds up and think about what kind of system best supports an increasingly ageing yet more informed population and can do it preserving their dignity.

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