The wait for a high level home care package has fallen to under a year for the first time since reporting began, new government figures show.
According to the home care packages report for the quarter ending March 31, the estimated wait time for level 2, 3 and 4 packages is currently between nine and 12 months.
Previously, the wait time for a level 4 package has been 12 months or more, according to the available information, with wait times hitting almost three years in 2018-19.
People assigned a level one home care package are waiting between three and six months.
A major milestone
Home care providers have described the drop in wait times as major milestone.
“The reduction in home care wait times to a year of less is a major milestone for aged care and older Australians,” LASA’s acting chief advocate Tim Hicks says.
He said LASA is calling on the government to make a firm commitment to reducing waiting times to less than a month as recommended by the Royal Commission.
Mr Hicks says there’s also concern that falling wait times will see more people applying for a package and funding hasn’t been allocated to meet the demand.
“We remain frustrated that Government has ignored calls from provider and consumer groups to allow people to access their home equity to stay at home while waiting for a package through a low or zero interest version of the Pension Loans Scheme,” he said.
87,162 on national priority list
However, almost 90,000 older Australians are still waiting for their packages to be delivered.
The report shows 183,376 people have access to some level of home care support, with 16,578 taking one up for the first time.
But it reveals that a total of 87,162 people are currently waiting for a HCP at their approved level.
Of those, 55,483 were eligible for CHSP while waiting to be offered any level of home care package and 31,670 had been offered a lower HCP.
There were 934 approved home care providers at the end of March, representing the entry of 12 new providers into the sector.
The government released an average of 3,350 HCPs a week over the last quarter.