Concerns raised over reduced HACC growth

Reducing the growth rate for home support services will lead to a further rationing of services and impact people’s ability to remain in their home as they age, provider and consumer representatives have warned.

 

Aged care provider and consumer representatives have warned that reducing the growth rate for home support services will lead to a further rationing of services and impact people’s ability to remain independent in their home as they age.

The government announced in Tuesday’s Federal Budget that it would reduce the annual growth rate in funding for the Commonwealth Home Support Program from 6 per cent to 3.5 per cent from July 2018 to save $1.7 billion over the following six years.

Commonly known as HACC in its current form, from 1 July 2015 the Commonwealth Home Support Program will bring together and streamline current services providing basic home support for older people such as the commonwealth’s HACC, carer respite and day therapy programs.

The government said the reduction would bring annual growth in the program in line with annual growth in the population of over-65s.

Blue Care executive director Robyn Batten said the Home Support Program had been growing by 6 per cent due to the demand for the services and that reducing the growth rate to 3.5 per cent would mean increased rationing of services that supported older people to remain independent.

COTA Australia chief executive Ian Yates agreed and said that even at the “hard fought” 6 per cent there was pressure on most types of home support services, a shortfall in some and certainly not an oversupply.

“We are launching the new Home Support Program next year, which is going to have some of its parameters changed and the way the services operate and if that makes it more responsive to real need we may end up needing more services,” Mr Yates told AAA.

He said reducing growth in the Home Support Program went against the government’s policy direction of enabling more older Australians to remain at home, and proceeding with it would have a direct impact on achieving the desired policy outcome.

“HACC is the area you don’t want to actually ration too much because it is front line. Studies that were done some time back showed that timely intervention with a couple of small services heads off a whole lot of more dramatic stuff,” he said.

My Yates likened the proposed reduction to an “own goal” where government was cost shifting to itself. By cutting Home Support Services people would end up in more expensive packaged home care, residential care or hospitals instead, he said.

“HACC is cheaper but the key thing is it is only effective if there aren’t really long waiting lists to get on it because if they wait a really long time for that basic service people do tend to get worse,” he said.

Aged & Community Services Australia CEO Adjunct Professor John Kelly said the proposed reduction in real annual growth was of “real concern” and that he would be taking it up with the Government.

“It is worth noting that this measure doesn’t commence till after the next Federal Election so there is time to discuss it with Government, the Opposition and minor parties,” Prof Kelly told AAA.

Tags: acsa, blue-care, budget 2014, cota, hacc, home-support-program, ian-yates, john-kelly, robyn-batten, slider,

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