Government leaves older Australians waiting for home care

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Leading Age Services Australia (LASA), Australia’s peak age services body, has released research revealing that more work needs to be done on the rollout of the Federal Government’s Increasing Choice in Home Care (ICHC) program.   

LASA CEO Sean Rooney said data previously released by the Government shows there are over 50,000 older Australians awaiting a home care package, with a further 35,000 people receiving services below their assessed level of need.

“While this critical shortage remains the key issue, our research examining the first six months of the program rollout from February to August this year has also revealed a number of aspects of the rollout that we are seeking to work with government to address,” Mr Rooney said.

“LASA had sampled 34 home care package providers drawn from its membership, accounting for five per cent of all approved providers nationally, and representing nearly 10 per cent of all home care packages available.”

The research found that:

  • While available home care packages increased by 14 per cent from 79,000 to 90,000, there was a much smaller increase of 4.7 per cent in consumer activation of packages.
  • Premature residential care admissions due to a shortage of high-level home care packages occurred at a rate of 2.7 per cent of all packages.
  • The extent of accumulated unspent home care package funds is estimated to be between $200 and $350 million system-wide.
  • The number of package upgrades for existing home care consumers to a higher level home care package increased significantly across the six months, highlighting the effectiveness of the My Aged Care system in facilitating consumer upgrades consistent with demand.

Mr Rooney said the home care package rollout is being challenged by the implementation of significant system changes that support greater consumer choice, while the system is also straining to keep up with growing demand.

“In the short term, more work needs to be done to ensure that available packages are reaching those who need them most. This should include re-allocating inactive packages and utilising the unspent funds in existing packages,” Mr Rooney said.

“In addition, looking towards next year’s Budget, a significant injection of funding will also be required to address the current waiting list and to make the system sustainable in the longer term.”

Mr Rooney said LASA recognises that the Federal Government’s reform agenda in aged care is necessary, ambitious, and is aimed at giving older Australians greater choice over the services and support they receive in their homes.

“The ICHC implementation is an evolving process with ongoing systems and process improvements in place to support the rollout of the home care reform program,” Mr Rooney said.

The Government is due to release its Home Care Package Program Data Report for the period 1 July – 30 September by the end of this month.

Read the full LASA report on home care.

What do you think? Does the Government need to do more to address the waiting list for home care packages?

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Written by Ben


Total Comments: 25
  1. 0

    How do I access a Home Care package? And how old do I have to be?

    • 0

      Not worth getting one as there is little left after the organisers take their cut. Cheaper to pay someone to do the jobs for you instead.

    • 0

      I see your point, but can’t quite agree.

      My mother received home assist for 4 years, after a hip replacement at 94 restricted her ability to do it all herself. I think it was probably cost effective, & the nurse visits were a damn sight cheaper than ambulance transfers to hospital would have been.

      The organisation was probably cost effective too. In her later years she would have been an easy target for rip off merchants, & government paying for services she was given or not given as the case may be.

    • 0

      Yellownana, you have to apply through My Aged Care and I think the age is 65 years for the start of service.
      If you are in a rural area ask the people at Country Women’s or the Senior Cits club as someone there will probably have had some experience dealing with the programme.
      We live in a rural area and get no assistance even though home care has been applied for and assessed but no-one available to do what is needed.
      Whether you wait for months for assistance or get it almost immediately seems to depend on where you live.

    • 0

      yellownanna. My mum was eligible for the package.You ask your GP about it and they send out an assessorIf you are on a pension you would receive discounts.

    • 0

      “How do I access a Home Care package? And how old do I have to be?”

      Through “My Aged Care”.

  2. 0

    The government would be better off just refunding the costs of the services people need instead of paying the middle man heaps and the person needing them getting next to nothing.

    • 0

      Perfect answer, my good man. You’ve out-cone yourself!

    • 0

      Great idea. A friend has had four appointments scheduled where the assessor just failed to show. No phone call or apology offered.

      I’ll bet those meetings in the appointment book are still charged to the taxpayer and not a single job or service carried out.

    • 0

      Rae – That’s terrible!!! It’s yet another example of the spreading discourtesy and lack of consideration rife in our society today.

    • 0

      Yes Knows. This lady is dealing with her husband’s dementia and is literally confined to home until some sort of respite is made available. All she wants is a few hours to shop and attend to her own health needs and appointments.

      There are thousands in a similar situation.

      OG’s idea of a reasonable usage limit where people can access help and then be reimbursed would be cost effective and eliminate the private businesses just paper shuffling and wasting time and tax dollars.

      Those supplying services would benefit in a more sustainable way too.

  3. 0

    Getting the home care packages to those needing the assistance quickly is the main criteria for assessing the success of the program. Of course, while so many thousands are waiting, the government is also saving money. This needs to change.

  4. 0

    It’s a costly proposition, and worthy of a welfare state… but still….

    I can see two ways to it.. on the one hand it is a very fine thing to be looking after people in their own homes… on the other hand it seems that families could be doing more here, since the cost is prohibitive.

    Also, we are constantly hearing a massive carry-on from governments about the ‘cost of welfare’ (leave Social Security out of that – it is NOT a cost in several ways), and to me, home care falls into the category of welfare, along with childcare and a few other government subsidies….. and I have a philosophical opposition to those.

    Therefore I cannot in all conscience NOT oppose home care as it now stands, UNLESS I look on it on a merit basis, and say it is a far more worthy ’cause’ than childcare and such (which I believe are family responsibilities and to have many bad side effects).

    Yep – I’ll go with that position…. home care is worthy – the others are not.. but families could still step up to the plate more.

    • 0

      Oh – as one of the ‘stop-gap’ people – full-time carer… I do it all.. renos (apart from mandatory tradie things), housework, yard work, running around, doctor’s visits driving etc, shopping……

      The actual cost far exceeds the amount the government pays me per fortnight, and costed with outside people these would be massive. I don’t think The Guv would be happy to pay them all.

    • 0

      “on the other hand it seems that families could be doing more here, since the cost is prohibitive.”

      What if you have no family, or they’re out of the picture?

      Home Care Packages are a far better alternative to nursing homes. I know, because I’ve experienced both.

    • 0

      Lucky you can leave that person to do those things TREBOR. A lot of people aren’t able to do that. They need help and if there are no family members fit to step up then the community should.

  5. 0

    When it comes to me not been able to care for myself, I will stockpile my medications, take them all at once, go to bed and say goodbye.

  6. 0

    If you are not elderly and have a disability very hard to access help If you are between 40 and 65 not easy t to access help. I had home assist until the service decided that they no longer wanted to deal with the council. Was recently advised that my age group would be catered for by the council through NDIS Aged care packages are like NDIS packages. Hard to access.The government deliberately want to make it hard to access so they do not have to pay aby money

  7. 0

    Interesting comments from everyone but we have to view the needs of the individual first before lumping everyone in the same box. I am 70 years old and have a level 2 home care package and I would struggle both financially and physical without. I have no one to help me with tasks like cleaning, changing linen, gardening and other back breaking stuff so I am very pleased to have been assessed eligible for the package through MyAged Care.

    • 0

      Good for you! The bureaucracy involved in getting the support is terrible. The GP has to organize an ACAT report, then you’re expected to find a provider who can provide for your needs. That can be difficult for Level 3 or 4 packages. There’s simply not enough government funding for those who cannot afford to pay it out of their own pockets.

    • 0

      Can you please tell me the cost of your package and some more detail, thanks.

    • 0

      Joy, what do you pay weekly for that?
      $70 a week is too much if you just want cleaning and gardening.
      The local council cleans fortnightly for about $10 for two hours.
      A monthly garden helper would be good too but my husband is managing otherwise.

  8. 0

    I was approved for a Level 4 Home-Care package by My Aged Care, but none were available in my area: another governmental/bureaucratic stuff-up. After countless hours of effort and grief, I ended up being taken on by the NDIS who fund a service to me provided by an outfit called Senior Helpers. Although there are occasional hickups, it’s pretty good.



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