The number of people accessing a home care package is growing, with a reduction in the number of people on the national queue and maximum wait times now less than nine months, according to the latest government data.
The Home Care Packages Program Data Report for the first quarter of the 2021-22 financial year shows that 74,143 Australians were waiting for a HCP at their approved level at the end of September, down from 87,162 six months ago.
According to the government, that represents a 25 per cent drop in the number of people on the national queue in the 12 months from September 2020.
The figures show 51,662 eligible people had not yet been offered an interim home care package although almost all had CHSP approval.
The number of people accessing a home care package stood at 186,570 at 30 September 2021, the report shows, a jump of 36,751 in the last year.
There were 19,599 new entries to a HCP in the September quarter, the single largest quarterly inflow.
People were waiting between one and three months for the highest level of home care and up to nine months for Levels 1,2 and 3.
Government credits…. itself
“We have seen a 25 per cent decrease in the number of people who are waiting for a home care package at their approved level since 30 September 2020,” aged care services minister Richard Colbeck said.
He said it reflected the government’s investment in providing an additional 80,000 home care packages from July.
“In addition to the 40,000 packages released in 2021-22, another 40,000 packages will become available in 2022-23,” he said.
“This means that by 30 June 2023 there will be around 275,600 packages available, ahead of the scheduled implementation of the new home care system by July of that year.
Providers market stable
The Report on the Operation of the Aged Care Act, released last Friday, shows that between 30 June 2020 and 30 June 2021, the number of operational approved home care providers grew from 920 to 939, representing a 2.1 per cent increase.
However the Gen data shows a significant drop since then, with 913 approved HCP providers at 30 September 2021.
The report attributes the drop to providers without any care recipients deactivating their aged care services.
In terms of service provision, the provider market has remained stablelReport on the Operation of the Aged Care Act
However ,providers with at least one care recipient increased between June and September.
That indicated that “in terms of service provision, the provider market has remained stable”, the report says.
The Aged Care Act report shows almost two thirds of aged care consumers accessed basic support at home and more than 1,430 organisations were funded to deliver CHSP services.
More than 212,000 people received care through a HCP and 825,383 were getting CHSP.
Read more about the report here.
Unmet demand for home support
But it’s not all good news. A report by the consumer group Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN) found despite increasing demand or CHSP, there were workforce shortages and a lack of services, particularly in rural and remote areas.
It also found home care consumers were concerned about long waiting times, fees and communication with providers.
The report is based on data captured in OPAN’s member’s quarterly reporting through 2020-21, and also includes case studies of older people’s experiences, some of which OPAN describes as “ quite distressing”.
OPAN CEO,Craig Gear OAM said the report highlights that more work needs to be done to improve the aged case system.
“We acknowledge the Australian government’s commitment to transform the aged care system and were pleased to see its significant investment in the May budget as a big first step,” he said in a statement.
“It is important to acknowledge that while the transformation of the aged care system has begun, it is not yet fixed, and older people are still enduring confronting experiences.”