Aged care industry peak bodies are calling for the Federal Government to act on the Tune Review recommendations to increase the availability of high-level home care packages in this year’s budget.
Catholic Health Australia, Aged and Community Services Australia and Leading Age Services Australia all want the government to change the mix of home care packages to increase the proportion of higher-level places.
CHA’s pre-budget submission to Treasury said this rebalancing of available packages to better match demand was a key priority.
Late last year the government converted 17,825 level 1 and 2 packages to 6,000 level 3 and 4 packages, in response to increasing demand for high-level care.
The peaks also called for the implementation of the Tune recommendation to temporarily re-allocate unused residential places to high-level home care.
LASA and ACSA said home care funding should be increased overall to address the national waitlist, which was sitting at 101,508 people in late September.
“People unable to receive the high level support they have been assessed as requiring are more likely to move to residential aged care. This is both more expensive and, in many cases, not the preference of the older person,” said ACSA’s submission.
Addressing package take up
ACSA called on the government to improve timely take up of packages by ensuring support is available to those needing help in choosing a home care provider.
The peak body also recommended reducing the 56-day period an older person has to activate their assigned package. However, older people would have an option of retaining their place in the queue should they choose to take up a package at a later time.
The department should also move away from allocating a higher-level package to consumers who have unspent funds that are not being saved for an agreed purpose, said ACSA.
LASA said older people should be able to register a preferred provider prior to being assigned a package to support clients to take up their package.
The Department of Health said it was currently undertaking research to better understand consumer behaviour and responses under the new system.
“This is in addition to a recent consumer engagement initiative to look into whether consumers understand letters about home care packages as well as how best to support them in taking the next steps,” a departmental spokesperson told Community Care Review.