Fears carers will be overlooked in home support program

A network of respite service providers has estimated around 75 per cent of their clients will no longer be eligible for respite services under the new Commonwealth Home Support Program.

 

Providers of respite services have raised significant concerns about the loss of services for carers under the government’s proposed new Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHSP).

The National Respite for Carers Program (NRCP) will be consolidated into the CHSP from 1 July 2015 as part of the government’s steamlining of the home support system.

However, the Victorian National Respite for Carers Program Service Network, which represents 69 service providers across the state, estimates 75 per cent of their clients will no longer be eligible for respite care under the new CHSP because of the high care needs of the person they care for.

The government has proposed the new Commonwealth Home Support Program will only deliver basic-level respite, support and care services to older people living in the community and their carers.

Sue Leake, Chairperson of the Victorian National Respite for Carers Program Service Network, said the majority of clients currently accessing the NRCP did not have basic support needs.

In a submission to the Department of Social Services, Ms Leake said the network’s survey of 79 respite services across Victoria showed that NRCP services were primarily supporting the carers of people with complex needs. The survey conducted in May 2014 found that 75 per cent of care recipients across all respite services had high care needs.

“The department’s discussion paper suggests that these clients and their carers would be transitioned out of the CHSP because of their high care needs. This begs the question where do they transition to?

“The reality is that there is very little capacity within Home Care Packages at all levels to meet the respite needs of carers, let alone the additional care coordination, education and support requirements necessary to ensure carers can continue in their caring role,” Ms Leake told AAA.

She said there was no parallel respite stream available to carers once the person they care for has transitioned to a home care package.

“There is no clear pathway for carers and no clarity around access to services separate to services for the care recipient. Carers’ needs are not prioritised within the CHSP or Home Care Packages,” she said.

The Victorian NRCP Services Network has recommended that carers be recognised as clients in their own right and that support for carers involved more than just respite care.

“Respite should be available to carers throughout the end-to-end system of aged care, not just at basic services,” Ms Leake said.

As reported by AAA last month, welfare group The Brotherhood of St Laurence also raised similar concerns about the future of high-level respite services under the new home support program.

Christine Morka, Brotherhood’s general manager for retirement, ageing and financial inclusion, said community clients with complex care needs such as those with late stage dementia would miss out if funding was only made available to basic-level respite.

The proposed Commonwealth Home Support Program will consolidate over 30 different service types that currently exist in the Commonwealth HACC Program, National Respite for Carers Program and Day Therapy Centre Program into just 15.

Submissions to the CHSP discussion paper closed 30 June.

Tags: CHSP, dss, reform, respite, sue-leake,

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