Australia’s 1,500 Commonwealth Home Support Program providers can apply for a $150 million funding pool that the government says will provide support to 18,000 people over the next 12 months.
Applicants in areas where there is high demand will be given priority.
Providers have welcomed the funding but have described it as “drip feed” that will do little to tackle the growing national Home Care Package queue.
But Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians Richard Colbeck says the government is committed to helping seniors remain in their own homes for longer.
“The grants will expand entry-level aged care and encourage greater choice for seniors across Australia,” Mr Colbeck said in a statement.
“Maximising independence and autonomy is a key objective of the CHSP, to help people maintain a good quality of life as they get older.”
The government announced in this year’s federal budget that it would provide $5.9 billion from 2020-21 to extend CHSP arrangements. Almost 850,000 Australians are currently receiving support through the progam.
Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA) says the funds will help older Australians stay at home but won’t do anything to reduce the number of people waiting for a home care package.
“These funds are welcome and will help thousands of Australians live at home for longer but it’s nowhere near enough to end waiting lists for the different home care programs,” ACSA CEO Patricia Sparrow said.
“Of course, providers and older Australians are always appreciative of additional investment, but the drip feed will need to end at some point. Australia is unprepared for some very big challenges that are just around the corner as our population ages.”
The latest government figures show that at the end of March almost 130,000 people were waiting for their allocated home care package. ACSA says 40,000 additional level 3 and 4 Home Care Packages are required to avoid people going to hospital or entering residential care prematurely.
“What’s required isn’t just about more money – the entire community needs to get involved in planning for their own ageing and also our ageing population,” Ms Sparrow said.
Information on applying for funding is available here