The government says it has over-estimated by 5,000 the number of lower level home care packages it needs to roll out over the next two years.

Aged care services Minister Richard Colbeck told a senate estimates committee last week that the 80,000 packages promised in the federal budget will begin rolling out from July 1 at the rate of 40,000 a year.

Assistant health secretary Chamandeep Chehl said between this year and 2023 there will be 12,000 level 4 packages, 37,000 level 3, and 36,000 level 2 packages.

There will be a total of around 16,450 level 1 packages – 5,000 fewer than previously projected.

As her figures exceed 80,000 it is unclear whether they also include previously announced home care packages set to come in line from July and Community Care Review has sought clarification.

Senator Colbeck at budget estimates on June 2, 2021.

Interim packages no longer needed

Ms Chehl told the committee many of the level one packages currently being used as interim packages will no longer be needed once people get their appropriate level.

“For level one, we are actually projecting that we will need less than what we had previously predicted because most people will be getting their approved level package,” she said.

“We are saying that we need 5,000 less than we had previously projected as needing at level one, which means it will be around 16,450 packages available in total at level one.”

Spare capacity

Aged care services minister Richard Colbeck said the “spare capacity” at the lower levels would enable the delivery of higher level packages into the system.

The additional packages meant the government was on track to clear the home care waiting list, which he said was currently around 87,000, by 2023.

He said during the HCP rollout the government would work on integrating and restructuring the home system as recommended by the royal commission.

“That’s a significant piece of work which we’ve already started doing some work on,” he said.

“We’re looking to have that work completed by the middle of 2023.”

Grants for providers

First assistant secretary Amy Laffin acknowledged the extra packages would require additional workers and told the committee there were “a number of activities to grow the workforce” including an additional 33,800 training places for personal care workers.

Home care providers will also be able to access a grants program as part of the $91.8 million commitment aimed at attracting 13,000 home care workers.

The grants program would support a range of activities, the committee heard, including screening candidates for suitability, providing mentoring and support for recruits, upskilling workers to become supervisors and finding a home care work placement.

The department is currently working on the grant guidelines but they will be available to individual organisations or consortiums.

“It could be a combination of home-care providers working with registered training organisations, recruitment agencies and peak bodies. We expect that all of them will be eligible to apply,” she said.

The grant round will open next year subject to departmental approval.

This story first ran on Community Care Review.

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