The number of older Australians waiting for the right level of care is continuing to grow with the latest figures showing almost 128,000 are queued for a home care package matching their need, 1,000 more than the previous quarter and 23,000 more than a year ago.
The latest home care package data report for October-December shows 90,646 people were receiving an HCP last September, a 22 per cent increase, or 16,441 more people than the same time in 2017.
There was also a 12.6 per cent increase in the number of people getting a high care package and overall there were more than 6,000 new entries to home care in the last quarter.
However by the end of December there were 74,000 people who had been assessed as needing care but were yet to get any level HCP, although majority of those (94 per cent) had been offered basic CHSP while they waited.
Almost 54,000 had been offered a home care package lower than they required as they waited for their assessed level of care.
The total number of people waiting for their appropriate level of care stands at 127,748 and people are continuing to wait at least 12 months for all but the most basic level of care, the figures show.
The number of home care providers also continued to grow with six new providers joining the market since September, taking the total number of approved providers to 902.
Not all bad news, government says
The federal government, facing election in coming weeks, highlighted the growth in the number of people receiving high-level care packages as a reflection of its efforts to provide more support for those with the greatest needs.
Some 29,400 new packages were released over the last quarter, Minster for Aged Care and Senior Australians Ken Wyatt said.
“This growth highlights the Morrison Government’s commitment to provide more senior Australians with subsidised care and support at higher levels,” he said in a statement.
But the opposition said the increase in wait times showed the government’s failure to fix the aged care crisis.
“Older Australians are entering residential aged care or even emergency departments instead of receiving their approved home care package,” opposing spokeswoman for ageing Julie Collins said.
The latest data was released on Wednesday, the same day as peak industry group LASA released its election manifesto calling for action to fix the “human tragedy in home care” and demanding legislated minimum wait times.
Australians on the home care priority queue
June 2017 – 88,000
December 2017 – 104,602
June 2018 – 121,418
September 2018 – 126,732
December 2018 – 127,748