The Federal Government will release an extra 14,000 high-level home care packages over four years in a bid to address growing demand for home care.
However, the $1.6 billion budget measure falls short of providing immediate relief to the 82,000 older people currently waiting on the national queue for a Level 3 or 4 package.
Government data shows there are nearly 105,000 people waiting to receive a home care package at their assessed level of need, including 28,000 who have been waiting for more than a year.
According to the budget papers, the government has set a target of reaching 151,500 home care places by 2021-22, which exceeds the growth target of 140,000 packages originally set under Labor’s Living Longer, Living Better reforms. There are currently around 88,000 packages in circulation.
The government is aiming to make 232,300 residential places available by 2020-21, which is a reduction of 7,300 places on last year’s budget estimates.
The extra high-level packages in the budget follow the government’s decision last year to convert 17,825 level 1 and 2 packages into 6,000 high care packages. These packages have been released into the national pool and the measure was cost neutral to government.
In Tuesday’s budget, the government also announced it will combine the residential and home care programs from 1 July this year to allow unused residential care funding to be redirected to home care.
This change picks up on a recommendation from the Tune Review to allow for greater flexibility in the government allocation of places under the provision ratio.
The budget did not include a commitment to introduce a Level 5 home care package as recommended by David Tune to increase the options for older people with high-care needs to be cared for at home.
The Turnbull Government is also pushing ahead with the implementation of a wellness approach in the Commonwealth Home Support Program by trialling an assessment model that focuses on reablement.
The new model will be trialled with up to four Regional Assessment Services and an estimated 100,000 CHSP clients with the aim of building client capacity and reducing the need for ongoing services.
A short-term reablement phase before referral for ongoing services is a feature of aged care systems internationally.
Training programs, resources and practical supports will also be introduced to support the wider adoption of wellness and reablement approaches in the sector, the government said.
The two-year reablement trial will receive $29 million in government funding.