Home care queue drops but 120,000 still waiting

There’s been a drop in the number of people waiting for their assigned home care package for the first time since 2017.

There’s been a drop a drop in the number of people waiting for their assigned home care package for the first time since 2017 when the program was introduced, but there are still almost 120,000 older people in the queue.

This includes more than 3,000 who are getting no government assistance at all despite being assessed as eligible.

Home care data for April 1-June 30 released by the health department this week shows 119,524 people were waiting for their appropriate level of care, including 47,462 who were on a lower than assigned package and 68,900 who were receiving CHSP support.

This represents an improvement on the previous quarter where on the national priority list hit 129,038.

Minister for aged care Michael Colbeck said that at the end of June 125,117 people had access to a home care package and the number of people waiting for their assessed package had fallen by around 7 per cent since March 2019.

“Aged care continues to be one of the top priorities for your government,” he said in a statement.

The report shows 11,120 people are waiting for a level four home care package, 5,762 fewer than 1 months ago.

The report says 47,700 packages were released in the June quarter and there were 27,299 approvals for a home care package.

The wait time was at least a year for all but the lowest levels was at least 12 months.

Home care providers continued to grow, the report showed with 929 now operating in the market, representing a 6.9 per cent increase since June 2018.

Cautious welcome from peaks

Leading Age Services Australia welcomed the reduction but said there were still too many older Australians not getting the level of care they needed.

CEO Sean Rooney said the latest data was welcome news, given it was  first time the number of older Australians waiting for a Home Care Package has fallen in the queue’s history.

“LASA applauds the Government’s noteworthy commitment to release more home care packages,” Mr Rooney said.

“However, it is still not good enough that at 30 June 2019, there were 119,524 elderly Australians waiting for a home care package at their approved level. Waiting times for a home care package in many locations are still often more than 12 months or longer, and in some cases, over 24 months.

“More work needs to be done in providing funding for higher level home care packages and advancing the integration of the home care package program and CHSP beyond June 2022.”

Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA) said the reduction was a “drop in the ocean”.

“This is great news for those that are now getting a package, but what about everyone else?” CEO Pat Sparrow said.

Opposition spokeswoman on ageing Julie Collins described the numbers of people waiting as distressing.

“The Prime Minister is happy to take responsibility for calling the Royal Commission into aged care, but he refuses to acknowledge that it was his aged care cuts and the Liberals’ inaction that led to it,” she said in a statement.

“Scott Morrison and the Government must do better to ensure older Australians get the quality aged care services they deserve.”

The national priority queue

June 2019 – 119,524

March 2019 – 129,038

December 2018 – 127,748

September 2018 – 126,732

June 2018 – 121,418

December 2017 – 104,602

June 2017 – 88,000

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