The number of people on a home care package has increased by almost 30 per cent over the last 12 months but the number waiting for their appropriate level of care is continuing to grow and people are waiting longer.
The Home Care Packages Program Data Report for the first quarter from July 1 to September 30, released by aged care minister Ken Wyatt on Thursday, shows 126,732 people are waiting for a package that matches their needs.
That’s 5,314 more than the 121,418 who were waiting at the end of June and compares to a wait list of 108,456 at the end of March and 104,602 in the queue last December.
However there were 91,847 people in a home care package at June 2018, a 28.6 per cent increase from 20,424 in June 2017, and an average of 2,320 packages were released each week during the last quarter.
There has also been an increase in approved home care providers in the past quarter, with 896 organisations now providing a service, up from 869 in June and 766 a year ago.
The report shows the average maximum exit fee charged by providers was $232 and at September almost half of all providers indicated they would not deduct an exit fee.
As of September some 6,000 older people were without any support, 63,000 had received approval for CHSP and 57, 650 had been offered a lower level HCP.
The times people are waiting for their packages also appears to be increasing, with a wait of more than 12 months for levels 2-4 and a 3-6 month wait for the lowest level of support.
At the last quarter the average waiting times were 1-3 months for a level 1, and 9-12 months for a level 2.
Mr Wyatt said the figures represented record growth in older people receiving home care packages and showed that 95 per cent of those approved for a HCP had been offered some form of support while they waited for their appropriate package level.
“CHSP assistance is being expanded and includes transport, domestic help such as house cleaning, personal care, home maintenance and modifications, food preparation and meals on wheels, nursing, social support and respite care,” he said in a statement.
Leading Age Services Australia CEO Sean Rooney said LASA was concerned that too many older Australians were missing out on the care they needed.
“People on this list are being forced into residential care and hospitals because they cannot access the services that they are assessed to need,” he told Community Care Review.
“This ultimately costs the Government more than giving them a package at an appropriate level, to say nothing of the suffering it causes to older Australians and their carers.”
ACSA CEO Pat Sparrow said the trend in unmet nees was unacceptable.
“Every quarter it becomes clearer that the provision of home care packages falls well short of being able to keep up with demand. The Government needs to recognise that, without further investment, the problem will only get worse,” she said.
COTA CEO Ian Yates said the figures showed that tens of thousands of people were still waiting for the package they were supposed to be on. He said while it was useful to have additional information about people who had been approved for CHSP, that didn’t mean the services were actually being delivered.
“It’s helpful to tell us that, but what we don’t know is how many people actually are receiving CHSP … they might have approval for it but there’s no waiting list for CHSP.”
Opposition aged care spokeswoman Julie Collins said the figures showed the government was failing to respond to the aged care crisis.
“The further blow out in the number of older Australians waiting for care underscores the failure of Scott Morrison’s Budget response to this unfolding crisis,” she tweeted.
Meanwhile, the 2017-2018 Report on the Operation of the Aged Care Act, also released on Thursday, showed that two thirds of aged care consumers accessed basic support at home in 2017-18.
It said more than 1,450 organisations were funded to deliver CHSP services to 783,043 clients in the past year.
At a glance
- Number of people waiting for approved level package: 126,732
- Number of people on HCP: 91, 847
- Number of people who accessed a home care package in last year: 116,843
- Number of home care providers: 896
- Number of home care packages released during September quarter: 30,150
- Home care approvals in September: 26,745
(source: Home Care Packages Program Data Report, July 1 to September 30)
The Home Care Packages Program quarterly report is available here.
The Report on the Operation of the Aged Care Act can be found here.
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