The number of consumers on the national queue for home care packages has grown by 14 per cent to over 101,500 older people, the latest quarterly data report from the Department of Health shows.
At 30 September, more than 60,000 consumers were waiting to be assigned a package and 41,000 were receiving services below their assessed level of need, according to the data released today.
The Department of Health said the growth in the national waitlist was driven by increasing home care approvals and high demand for level 3 and 4 packages.
The report showed 79,000 older people nationally were on the queue for a high-level package, up from 67,000 at the end of June.
The average number of daily approvals for a package has grown by 24 per cent since March 2017.
Limited change in number of home care consumers
The department has released 80,000 home care packages since the commencement of the new home care system on 27 February, including 33,000 in the July to September quarter. However, the number of new packages in the system is not reported by the department.
Despite the large number of package assignments, the proportion of consumers receiving home care remains relatively unchanged. According to the report, there were only 6,900 new entries to home care between 1 April and 30 June and 6,100 exits, delivering a net increase of 800 consumers into the system.
At 30 June 2017, there were 71,423 consumers receiving a home care package, an increase of just 1 per cent since the end of March.
Over the quarterly reporting period, 28 per cent of assigned packages were released as upgrades to consumers on a lower-level package.
The sector has expressed ongoing concerns over the take up of packages by consumers under the new system where packages are assigned directly to consumers. Consumers have 56 days with the option of a 28-day extension to select their preferred provider.
For the first time, the report includes information on the distribution of assigned packages according to the aged care planning regions.
The report also confirmed the government’s commitment of an additional 6,000 level 3 and 4 packages have been released into the national pool.
As reported by Community Care Care Review, the sector has been calling for urgent action to address the high-level of unmet demand for home care.
Following the release of the report, both consumer and provider peak bodies said the size of the queue was unacceptable and significant increased investment was needed to address the issue.