Landmark home-care reform planned

Details of “landmark reforms” to help elderly people age at home will be announced soon, Minister for the Aged Ken Wyatt has revealed.

“With the vast majority of senior Australians wanting to remain in their own homes for as long as possible, home care remains an absolute priority,” the Minister said after the release of quarterly figures on delivery of the service.

“To that end, I will have more to say about further landmark reforms in coming months.”

Asked by YourLifeChoices to expand on the nature of the overhaul, the Minister’s office said it would not comment at this stage.

Government data shows that despite nearly 3800 Home Care Packages being assigned each week, more than half the people who have registered to receive the services are still not able to access them.

COTA Australia chief executive Ian Yates told YourLifeChoices the Federal Government was still falling short of its obligations to provide the packages in a timely manner.

“Although demand now seems to be stabilising and we have a better understanding of the need, it is still unacceptable that tens of thousands of older Australians who the Government has assessed as in need of high-level home care have to wait months or even a year,” Mr Yates said. 

“We urgently need an injection of at least 20,000 new packages.”

Mr Yates said the cost of the new packages could be met by redirecting funds from residential care to home care.

The Minister has revealed that 50,300 packages had been allocated between October and December and described it as “a record number”.

He said there were 17,500 more packages allocated in the December quarter than in the previous three months.

“The latest figures indicate home care is now on a positive trajectory, with delivery ramping up at a great rate,” Mr Wyatt said.

However, the Minister also revealed that only 46 per cent of people in the queue were accessing interim care.

While those able to access interim care included almost everyone who had been in the queue for a year or more, 54 per cent of those registered for care were still waiting.

“Like many new reforms, things moved a little slowly at first last year, as senior Australians and their families grew accustomed to the changes,” said Mr Wyatt, appearing to shift the blame for new system’s hiccups onto the consumer. Legislation reforming how people access care services was enacted a year ago.

The reforms allow people to choose their care provider and take their Home Care package with them, wherever they live.

There are four levels of care packages, from basic services to high-needs care. The subsidies provided by the Government are up for review in June.

Mr Wyatt said that of the December quarter’s allocation, more than 36,000 packages went to people who were new to Home Care, and almost half of the total went to senior Australians with the highest levels of need.

Have you experienced delays receiving the right level of Home Care? Why do you think the Government has been slow to allocate packages?

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