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Home care queue passes 129,000


Almost 1,300 older Australians have joined the national home care queue, with more than 129,000 people currently waiting for their allocated home care package, according to the first set of figures released since the re-election of the Coalition government.

The number of people waiting at the end of March stood at 129, 038 compared to 127,748 six months ago, according to the Home Care Packages Program Data Report released this month.

The latest figures show that at the end of the latest quarter 75,739 people were still waiting for an appropriate level of home care with the majority having to get by with only low level Commonwealth home support.

A total of 53,299 had been offered a lower level home care package that didn’t fully meet their needs as a stop gap measure.

The average wait times for all but the lowest level of home care is more than 12 months, the report shows.

There were 26,486 approvals for home care in the March quarter but only 31,200 were released.

As of last December there were 93,331 people in a home care package, 2700 more than in the previous quarter.

The number of approved home care providers has also continued to increase with 15 providers joining the market since December, taking the number of operators to 917. There were 693 approved providers in March 2017.

‘Ongoing crisis’

The opposition said the “distressing” figures underscored the failure of the government to respond to the ongoing crisis.

“These figures confirm the Liberals’ policy chaos has failed older Australians,” opposition spokeswoman Julie Collins said in a statement.

Peak industry body ACSA said it encouraging to see more people accessing home care, but said the size of the waiting list was unacceptable.

CEO Pat Sparrow said the data showed there was no time to wait for the conclusion of the Royal Commission into aged care before acting.

“This new home care package summary has reminded us that there is an urgent need to act now on the provision of home care packages,” she said.

LASA called for moves to fast track the integration of the Home Care Package Program with the Commonwealth Home Support Program and to increase higher level home care packages.

“LASA has received anecdotal advice from home care providers showing that CHSP services funded to provide entry level care are now at capacity,” CEO Sean Rooney said.

LASA was also renewing its call for “private funding levers,” Mr Rooney added.

Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians Richard Colbeck said the government was committed to helping senior Australians access the care they wanted and needed, and had increased the number home care packages in response to this.

“In the year to March 2018, we have increased the number of home care packages by 20 per cent, meaning that over 93,000 Australians have a package,” Mr Colbeck told Community Care Review.

There were also more than 53,000 people who hdbeen offered an interim home care package, he noted.

“Our Government is delivering $2.2 billion in additional investment since last year’s Budget to help meet continuing strong demand and has announced additional 20,000 packages,” Mr Colbeck said.

“Indications are that this increase in home care packages has already made a significant difference in senior Australians’ ability to access in-home care.”

Funding increases disappoint

The release of the figure come as the federal government on Tuesday announced a 1.4 per cent indexation increase for home and residential care funding effective from July 1.

The increase has been met with disappointment from both peaks.

Ms Sparrow says the increase is “woefully inadequate”, especially against a 3 per cent wage increase, and services for older Australians will suffer as a result.

Mr Rooney also said that indexation of funding for aged care had not kept pace with the growing needs of older Australians and the costs of their care.

“In home care, a higher hourly wage means that fewer hours of care can be purchased by older Australians if there is not a commensurate increase in the value of packages,” Mr Rooney.

“The leading industry survey also shows that earnings for home care providers have almost halved in the last two years, putting services under increasing pressure just to stay afloat.”

From July the rate of basic daily fee to be charged for home care package will depend on the package level and the subsidy for level 1, level 2, and level 3 home care packages has been further increased from 1 July 2019 to compensate for the decrease in the rate of basic daily fee payable for those home care packages.

More information on the updated fees and charges can be found here.

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

March 2019 – 129,038

 

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6 Responses to Home care queue passes 129,000

  1. Anton Hutchinson June 26, 2019 at 3:20 pm #

    What has happened to society? Home care packages have only been in existence for a couple of years, what did we all do before this?

    When did we as a population start to believe it was taxpayers that should fund elderly people to have their lawns mowed, vacuum the house or do their shopping? Yes of course there is a care component and there are folk that don’t have alternative and they should get all the help they can but when they have families within easy reach, we’ll it’s just not acceptable.

    It’s a lovely yet Utopian view to fob the responsibility to a third party but up until a couple of years ago it was a families responsibility to do those and other jobs for the parents and grandparents.

    Australians today seem to believe that “if they can get it so should I”
    We spend far too much time with our hands out and eyes cast down and we should take a long hard look at ourselves.
    The present scheme is unsustainable, the country simply cannot afford to have one on one care in the home. When the time comes and the families can no longer care for their parents then there are aged-care facilities that will take over that responsibility.
    It’s easy to be suspicious of the Residential scene but the issues of abuse, while absolutely unacceptable, are in the vast minority and most residents are amply cared for by a dedicated workforce.

  2. Terry Kelly June 27, 2019 at 1:16 pm #

    Some good points, Anton, but in the past people died earlier. And while going into care is an option (sometimes a good one), while not being what a person usually wants it’s also more expensive for the government than keeping people at home. Also families are more widely spread these days and are not able to provide as much day to day care, even if they are supportive. And some people don’t have families. And some have very dysfunctional ones. And some carers are going under due to the stress.

  3. Anton Hutchinson June 27, 2019 at 5:34 pm #

    G’day Terry
    As I said there are folk that genuinely have no one to help and I’m all for helping those.
    I have to correct you however on the cost being cheaper to have home care rather than residential.
    The highest home care package will deliver around 6-8hours per week and costs around $50,000,so about $140 per day delivering on average one hour per day.

    Residential care average cost us around $150 per day and that is 24/7 totalling around $54,000 per year.
    So clearly residential care offers significant hours of care for a similar price, also this includes 24/7 clinical management and not someone doing house work.

    Alternatively there are many people assessed as requiring either a high home care package (that aren’t available) or residential care that is available and they are being allowed to languish in a hospital acute bed at around $1900 per day.

    So I reckon that the very best value and security is residential care. Further I have to ask where will this Utopian dream of us all living a longer and glamorous life at home end?
    The family carer has been undervalued and under appreciated but regrettably this is the cost of being part of a family.
    It is simply unaffordable to extend this to the enth degree for all.
    Once again I have to stress that we all managed ourselves pretty well until a couple of years ago.
    The monies spent on home care hasn’t been well spent, there is something like 800 million of taxpayers money sitting in consumers accounts unspent and no method of getting it back! Rediculous!

    St some point most of us are going to spend some time in residential care simply because we are living much longer.

  4. AJ July 25, 2019 at 9:44 am #

    Anton – prior to Home Care Packages were Community Aged Care Packages (CACP) and higher level versions for those with complex needs and dementia (EACH/EACHD).

    Funding was spread far wider for those packages and if you only needed a small amount of care you only received that, so those with higher needs received more funding (preventing the unspent funds issue).

    It had its flaws just like the current system however the Home and Community Care (previously HACC, now CHSP) also allowed providers to increase hours of care for those who needed, before going on to a CACP or in to residential care. It was far more flexible from a provider point of view.

    Whilst a Level 4 is worth a little over $52,000 a year on average it can provide 15-17 hours a week worth of care (depending on clinical needs), I agree it often is not suffice for someone with complex needs wanting to avoid residential care however it is still a great amount of support for the right person.

    I’m a big advocate for older Australian’s to stay at home for as long as possible given the support they can receive is one-on-one and tailored to their specific needs. Whilst Residential Care funding can be stretched further, it’s because care is delivered in a larger group type setting therefor not as much one-on-one support for each resident.

    The new Aged Care Standards aim to have residential facilities deliver more tailored support however I know it will take some time to get there.

    All of these points and concerns around the data report really lead back to our choice of government and their prioritisation (or lack of) of budget funds to our most vulnerable.

    The more we can make the right decisions about who we have steering the ship, the less rocky the seas will be.

  5. Elise August 20, 2019 at 1:13 am #

    Thank you AJ for explaining to us all perfectly.

  6. Carer December 8, 2019 at 9:38 am #

    I too believe ‘in home’ care is the way to go as true costs seem more complex. Many elderly on the maximum hours of support still only just manage to stay at home with additional support from family & friends around work and children. So a lot of families are already propping up care. Previously many women didn’t work as they do now, but imagine the economic consequence of them leaving the workforce now, superannuation is just one example & an issue already from childbearing. In March there were 129,000 waiting for help & I can’t imagine these beds or trained staff are currently available. Nor do cognitively impaired people adjust well to unfamiliar surroundings and then there are pets & provider care concerns. It’s complex issue & definitely in need if more urgent attention.

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