Older Australians left abandoned and confused by home care

New research shows older Australians are often unable to access the necessary support to live happier, healthier lives at home.

A report from the Consumer Policy Research Centre (CPRC) has found that the complexity of access to Home Care Packages (HCPs) often presents as a major barrier to many older Australians obtaining support.

The CPRC research was undertaken in partnership with the University of South Australia and surveyed 502 HCP recipients across metropolitan Australia in June and July last year.

It found that 60 per cent of the older people surveyed required assistance to identify and choose a HCP provider. Healthcare providers (40 per cent) or family and friends (35 per cent) provided the majority of this assistance.

CPRC chief executive Lauren Solomon said the system has not been designed adequately for the people trying to access it.

“(The) burden is simply being shifted to family, friends and healthcare professionals as people try to navigate this bewildering and broken system,” Ms Solomon said.

“For those older people without adequate family or healthcare support, it’s unclear whether they would even be aware of the available Home Care Package support, let alone be able to access the system.”

The lack of HCPs was highlighted by the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.

However, Ms Solomon warned that pouring more packages into a broken system alone would not improve outcomes.

“We need to fix the way older people and their carers are accessing the system,” she said. “It needs to be easier, fairer and a lot more transparent.”

The CPRC believes that fees, prices and service information need to be standardised and simplified so that people can compare their home care options and also called for increased transparency on the quality of different providers.

The research found that nearly a third of HCP recipients (32 per cent) didn’t know what level of package funding they received and 36 per cent reported difficulties in understanding fees and charges.

Concerningly, 39 per cent of recipients reported not receiving a care plan. The care plan outlines the assessed needs of the individual, states the services the individual will receive to meet those needs, who will provide those services and when. It’s a key document to enable older people to hold providers to account for the services they deliver.

Only 6.8 per cent of respondents reported using information on the My Aged Care online portal, and only 5.8 per cent went online more generally to find and compare information about Home Care Packages.

Should there be more transparent information about the quality of different HCP providers?

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Written by Ben

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