There’s been a small drop in the number of older Australians waiting for a home care package, but the peaks aren’t celebrating yet.
The latest government figures show 96,859 older people were waiting for a HCP at their approved level at the end of December, representing a marginal reduction from the previous quarter when there were 99,268 in the queue.
Almost 60,000 of those waiting for their assessed level of home care package were receiving CHSP.
The minimum wait for a level 2, 3 and 4 HCP is 12 months, with the aged care royal commission putting the maximum wait at up to three years. Those assigned a level 1 package are looking at a wait of between three and six months.
The figures show 159, 339 people were in a HCP at the end of December, 30,500 more than December 2019.
There 44,200 home care packages released in the December quarter and 928 approved providers.
Just a tiny step
Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA) said the drop was just a “tiny step” in the right direction despite the government’s $1.6 billion budget splash out last October and an additional $1 billion contained in the 2020-21 MYEFO.
CEO Pat Sparrow said the latest figures underline the need for a total funding overhaul instead of a drip feed of top-ups.
“We need big picture reforms … that reimagine the way we care for older people and support our critical workforce, not further announcements that just prop up the existing system that is on its knees,” Ms Sparrow said.
“We know the need for home care is growing faster than ever before and that older people want to age at home. To make this possible and to relieve pressure on the residential system we need an overhaul, not tinkering at the edges.”
Leading Age Services Australia (LASA) said the waitlist for HCPS had only reduced by 2, 404 despite the total number of people getting a home care package increasing by more than 9,520 since the end of September 2020.
“We welcome the release of additional packages in last year’s budget and MYEFO, but with these additional packages the clearance of the national queue cannot come quick enough,” said Tim Hicks, LASA’s general manager of policy and advocacy.
“The aged care royal commission has said the queue should be eliminated by December this year, and we call on the government to work closely with the sector to do what is necessary to achieve that recommendation.”
The final report of the aged care Royal Commission identified the shortfall in home care packages as one of the biggest problems in the aged care system and has called for the queue to be eliminated by the end of this year and for wait times to be capped at one month by 2024.
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