5,000 more waiting for appropriate level of home care

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 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.

Ken Wyatt

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.

Waiting list

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.

LASA CEO Sean Rooney
Sean Rooney

“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.

Read more: $100 million CHSP boost as HCP queue grows

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6 thoughts on “5,000 more waiting for appropriate level of home care

  1. Home care packages are not the solution. Home care package providers take between 30% and 50% of the package in fee’s and charges. The service provider costs are usually around 25%. What does this mean? It means that funding provided directly to service providers results in more hours of service to the clients than that which goes via a home care package provider.

    Our Social Support Group is funded between $14 and $19.50 per hour for the clients that attend, this includes transport to and from the program, morning and afternoon tea and lunch. For Home Care Package providers the cost is $16.80 per hour for high level clients and today I have had a Home Care Package provider say they are only willing to pay $8.30 per hour including transport to and from the program, morning and afternoon tea and lunch. If we accept this and it becomes the norm we will be out of business in a few months and all these frail, elderly people will be left isolated in their homes. We see people on home care packages using their package to fund $13,500 mobility scooters, but their is no money for social support programs and meals on wheels.

  2. I wonder if there are many people who have been on the HCP national queue for a level 4 package longer than my brother – 820 days so far.

  3. The new report provides figures on people *approved* to access the CHSP, not those who are actually receiving it.

    Last year CHSP providers were reporting staffing and program outputs were exceeding their block-funded grant agreements due to unmet demand for home care packages http://temp.australianageingagenda.com.au/2017/09/08/home-care-system-troubles-compounding-says-peak/.

    The extra $100M announced by the government for the CHSP over two years would only subsidise ~2,000 Level 4 home care packages.

    The number of people without an interim package has grown by over 12,000 since the last report 3 months ago (22% increase from 56,750 to 69,086).

    The home care system is in desperate need of reform.

    Recent research by the Registry of South Australians (ROSA) reported by A/Prof Maria Inacio at the AAG conference in November found that those waiting longer for home care packages had higher mortality.

    This should be a national outrage.

  4. I couldn’t agree more Mikaela! The report only provides numbers of people approved for CHSP – not who are receiving services. Availability is non existent for many services, especially personal care.

    Many CHSP providers do not have availability because they have exceeded the funding received. Also they are not taking on any new clients, focussing their CHSP on supplementing Home Care Package clients with high needs waiting for 3 or 4 level packages.

    Many who are lucky enough to access CHSP services and who are waiting for a Home Care Package have high level care needs of which CHSP is not intended to service. Providers are firmly told by the Department of Health not to exceed the funding level 1 HCP.

    The new influx of funding of $100M over two years will not be able to hold back the growing queue of older people in need.

  5. When the provided CHSP funding from the local council gives access to 1.5 hours of house cleaning a fortnight per household, plus physio which has a wait list until at least Feb 2019, it’s not really a great alternative.

    The 1.5 hours a fortnight offered by our council can be used for other activities, such as shopping or personal care, but that’s not additional support – it’s an alternative. if you break it up, that 1.5 hours would allow, for example 40 mins to clean the kitchen, bathroom and toilet and vacuum the floor, 4 x 10 min showers (2 a week, or you could always opt for 1 shower a week and have a luxurious 20 mins each time), 40 mins to go shopping.

    I wonder who is helping with the community activities, trips to the doctor and chemist, paying bills, servicing the car, cooking the meals, washing the dishes, putting out the bins, sweeping the ramp and driveway, watering the garden, mowing the lawn, sorting the recycling…

    And a quick (30 minute) phone call to My Aged Care phone line got the helpful information from the call taker that ‘it’s worse in my home country of Sri Lanka – there is no support there at all.’ Not exactly the answer I was looking for. Oh and the fact that the assessed and approved HCP is now further away in time than it was two months ago – it’s now at least a 3-6 month wait. Still. Waiting.

  6. We need to provide people with the services they need at the location they are required.
    This can be more economically achieved by increasing the block funding to service providers not by increasing the number of Home Care Packages.
    We are seeing people being encouraged to enter Aged Care because they require an insulin injection twice a day from the District Nursing Service as they are unable to self administer and the Package Providers are saying there is insufficient funds in the package to pay for this. Is this what our Aged Care Services have become?

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