Sector calls for end to rigid allocation of packages

Provider and consumer peak bodies are urging the Federal Government to increase the flexibility of the home care system to distribute packages based on assessed need rather than by funding level.

Provider and consumer peak bodies are urging the Federal Government to increase the flexibility of the home care system to distribute packages based on assessed need rather than by funding level.

Suzanne Greenwood

In its pre-budget submission, Catholic Health Australia said government control over the number of packages at each of the four levels was contributing to a mismatch between need and supply.

CHA’s chief executive officer Suzanne Greenwood called on the government to end the current inflexibility in the system as a priority in the May budget, which could be achieved within the current funding envelope for home care.

Community Care Review has previously reported on extensive waiting lists for Level 3 or 4 packages in some regions, with older people taking up a lower level package or topping up funds with private services to meet their needs.

Pat Sparrow

Aged and Community Services Australia CEO Pat Sparrow agreed there should be more flexibility now and in the future for government to convert vacant lower level packages to higher level ones where there was demand.

“This needs to be supported by data which over time will become available from the national prioritisation and wait list being held at My Aged Care,” she told Community Care Review.

Leading Age Services Australia CEO Sean Rooney said the home care system should be flexible enough to move funding across package levels to meet the assessed needs of consumers.

“To be a truly consumer centric system, home care needs to provide resources that meet assessed need,” he told Community Care Review.

Sean Rooney

Ian Yates, the chief executive of COTA Australia, agreed the government should act swiftly to resolve the longstanding issue.

He said it was more important to get the right mix of packages in place, even if that meant fewer packages overall.

“There is no point in having thousands of empty packages or lots of people sitting on packages that are inadequate for them,” Mr Yates told Community Care Review.

“The alignment of the numbers of packages to assessed need should happen very quickly.”

Mr Yates urged the Department of Health to convert large numbers of vacant lower level packages into Level 3 or 4 packages to help meet demand for high-level care in the community.

Ian Yates

He said it would become increasingly difficult for government to justify lengthy waiting times for high-level packages while large numbers of Level 2 packages remained vacant.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health said the home care packages released through the new national prioritisation system would continue to reflect the current distribution of packages between levels, as determined by the provision ratio.

Information about “expected waiting times” for packages through My Aged Care would be published in the second half of the year, the department said.

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Tags: acsa, COTA-australia-LASA, home-care-packages, ian-yates, my-aged-care, pat-sparrow, Sean Rooney, Suzanne Greenwood,

4 thoughts on “Sector calls for end to rigid allocation of packages

  1. Totally agree with what the leaders in the sector are saying. The government should have to all the information they need to undertake an analysis of those on the waiting list for a package compared to the number of vacant packages for each level. Based on the outcome of this analysis, a strategy for at least the next 12 – 18 months could be developed. For example, I suspect there would be many vacant level 1 packages which should be eliminated as consumers that require minor domestic services could access the Commonwealth Home Support Program at this stage until that rolls into Consumer Directed Care packages. A large number of the vacant level 2 packages could be eliminated and more level 3 & 4 packages could be provided. Having said that, there are consumers that have been allocated a level 3 or 4 package where it is not needed. I think it is up to the provider to report this to the government and maybe swap it over for a level 2 package until a higher package is needed. Those in the sector have to remember that there isn’t an unlimited amount of funds so it has to be a bit of give and take which in itself is a process that needs to be worked through

  2. What would work in its simplest form is to have a pool of money and not have a defined level of any package. We undertake needs assessments for a reason, so the person should be assessed, determined what level then the funding be given a package. The issue with this system then would be once the money runs out, it runs out. However, there is no point having unused packages at one level and not enough in another level. Its not rocket science. Have a pool of money and assign the packages as needed from the pool of money, then there is minimal wastage.

  3. The only thing that sets apart a package IS the pool of money. That is what the Government are giving you when they allocate you a package – a pool of funding.

    How do you say to a consumer – when it runs out is runs out? How do you access a bigger pool of money when your needs change?

    It would be unsustainable if the Government were to give out the same pool of money to everyone – some do not need as much and some need more – this is why HCP funding left the block funding model to CDC in the first place – those with higher needs were being subsidised by those with lower needs.

    I agree that maybe the available mix is not right – but the Government will almost certainly not rush to provide (for example) 1,000 x Level 4 Packages for 1,000 people at a cost of $50mil, when it could (for example) offer 250 @ L1, L2, L3 and L4 – sure it still cares for the same 1,000 people, but costs the Government half as much to do so.

    The Government is trying to get consumers used to the idea of adding more funds to pay for their own services. The entire industry is geared this way.

  4. “There is no point in having thousands of empty packages or lots of people sitting on packages that are inadequate for them,” Mr Yates told Community Care Review.

    The above mention in the article would have been relevant pre Feb 27th 2017 but no longer relevant with introduction of further aged care reforms. Providers no longer have any ‘vacant’ packages.

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