The latest government figures show the number of people waiting for their appropriate level of home care has increased to more than 108,000.
The data, released by aged care minister Ken Wyatt today, shows that at March 31 there were 108,456 people in the national queue, a 3.7 per cent increase from 104,602 last December.
The figures, which include those on an interim package while they wait for their required level of care, reflect a steady increase in people waiting since the first home care data report was released a year ago, and also show that people are waiting 12 months or more for high level packages and three to nine months for a level 1 or 2 package.
Almost 55,000 people were on lower-level interim packages but some 33,000 people with high needs had not been assigned any care.
They also reveal a record number of people in home care, with 77,918 in care at December, up 13.5 per cent from December 2016 and a five per cent increase from September 2017. There were 31,240 approvals for home care and 41,993 packages released in March quarter.
There has also been a 5.8 per cent growth in the number of approved home care providers since December, with 853 approved providers offering a home service.
“More older Australians than ever before are being supported to stay in their own home for longer,” Mr Wyatt said in a statement.
“As our population ages, we are seeing demand for support increasing every year. That is why in this year’s budget we committed a record $5 billion aged care boost, including $1.6 billion for additional high-level home care packages.”
He said the number of home care packages would hit 151,000 by 2022, including 34,000 more high-level packages.
But the opposition said the figures, including more than 88,000 people with high needs, had exposed the federal goverment’s aged care budget measures as “a cruel hoax”.
“With the waiting list growing by almost 4,000 older Australians in just three months, the 3,500 new home care packages a year committed in the Budget won’t come close to keeping pace with demand,” she said in a statement.
COTA Australia welcomed the five per cent increase in home care packages and said the figures reflected a shift in preference for home care packages rather than residential care.
“As we have long said, more HCPs are needed. Note that the minister and treasurer have both said this since the Budget, but we now need definite targets and a timetable,” CEO Ian Yates said.
Key points from the March quarter Home Care Package data report
- people waiting for a home care package – 108,456
- number waiting for lower care – 19, 805
- number waiting for higher care – 88,651
- average wait time for lower care – 3-9 months
- average wait time for higher care – 12+ months
- approved home care providers – 853
- people receiving home care – 77,918
- Home care packages released – 41,993
Read the report in full here