Recommendations to eliminate the home care queue by the end of next year are not feasible and will be met by opposition from some parties, a leading aged care consultancy warns.
The proposal, by counsel assisting the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, would also require more than 15,000 additional workers and more than 1,000 care managers, Ansell Strategic says in a submission to the commission.
Senior counsel’s final recommendations, handed to the commissioners in October, include clearing the 100,000-strong waitlist by December 31, 2021, with a one month cap on wait times for all new entrants after that.
“The work undertaken by the Royal Commission has shone light on the frustrations of consumers and aged care providers with the management of the Home Care Package (HCP) waitlist,” Ansell says in its submission.
“While we would strongly argue that the elimination of the HCP queue is an absolute priority, the near doubling of supply by the end of 2021 is not practicable.”
It says the the proposed aged care restructure put forward by senior counsel assisting, which would see the integration of the home and residential care sectors, is “bold and strategic” although the costs will be “eye-watering”.
Ansell says eliminating the HCP waitlist is a critical step in moving Australia to the proposed structural reforms.
However it warns “this outcome will be politically and economically challenging” and “there will be interested parties that will resist change”.
Double level of services required
Ansell says eliminating the queue by the end of 2021 would require an almost doubling of the level of services that has taken decades to establish.
It would also require wage reviews, rural and remote recruitment and retention incentives, review of training qualiifciations and workforce modelling.
The submission says abolishing the waitlist would equate to more than 15,000,000 incremental hours of care which translates to about 15,200 additional care workers and 1,010 care managers.
Most of the care workers will have to be highly skilled because 56 per cent of those on the wait list require high level care, it adds.
Approvals capacity will also have to be increased.
Ansell notes that the planned transition to payment in arrears will affect cashflow for providers and impede their capacity to deliver services.
While the consultancy says it doesn’t believe the 2021 goal can be achieved, it says a plan should be in place by the time the commission hands down its final report next February, including capacity building for providers, training for carers and adequate resourcing.
Ansell says to develop a HCP expansion program, a national growth map tool will be needed to map supply of care workers and demand for services.
“Working with … Australian Unity and Bolton Clarke … our team will be providing the royal commission with a workable roadmap to eliminating the queue on an ongoing basis,” Ansell says.