Budget needs cash boost for home care, say providers

Home care providers are calling on the Albanese Government to inject $800 million into the Home Care Packages program.

Home care providers are calling on the Albanese Government to inject $800 million into the Home Care Packages program.

The Aged & Community Care Providers Association has asked the government for the cash boost in its pre-budget submission to clear the waiting list for 2023-24 ahead of the replacement scheme’s commencement in July 2024.

ACCPA estimates an additional 20,000 home care packages will need to be released across the 2023-24 financial year at a cost of $853 million.

“Current funding commitments for the release of additional home care packages from the national queue are only confirmed up until June 2023, and wait times for older Australians to receive a home care package at the approved level have remained three-to-six months across the 2022 calendar year,” reads ACCPA’s submission.

The provider peak says any investment in home care is likely to be offset through reduced costs in residential aged care, “as people will be in their communities and homes for longer, at a reduced overall cost – improving the lives of people, honouring their right to choose to stay in their home and supporting efficiency in aged care.”  

The extra cash would ensure all home care clients are in receipt of a package at their approved level prior to the implementation of the new in-home care program, says ACCPA.

“This allocation of funds is a critical step to support home care package recipients’ transition to the new in-home aged care program from July 2024, by ensuring that their new support plans reflect approved service levels matched to need.”

It is also critical that the government gets the new home care program right, says ACCPA, so that providers have the “confidence to respond to the care expectations of Australians as they age” and to give Australians confidence “that the care will be there as and when they need it.”

ACCPA is also calling for the May budget to address the chronic aged care workforce shortage. Among its recommendations: extending the working hours of student visa holders beyond 30 June 2023 “until such time the immigration of new aged care workers increases sufficiently to reduce the staffing shortage in our sector.”

Tom Symondson

ACCPA chief executive officer Tom Symondson said the peak’s pre-budget submission focuses on what can be established or seeded in the coming year so that a positive impact on the lives of older people can be realistically achieved.

“ACCPA is committed to a collaborative approach, working in partnership with government, consumers, aged care workers and providers to develop solutions to the considerable challenges facing Australia’s aged care sector,” he said.

“Our older people are to be cherished and supported as they age. We want to work to ensure they can live their best lives. It’s what they deserve.”

Pay rise for all

Meanwhile, workforce shortages are also a priority for the peak body representing Catholic health and aged care providers, Catholic Health Australia in its submission to Treasury.

The CHA has recommended that the government:

“Catholic aged care providers have a vital interest in working with the Australian Government to ensure the provision of aged care and support services for older Australians meet community expectations of safety and quality of care,” reads the CHA submission.

Its recommendations “address the critical risks in aged care that will affect vulnerable older Australians who are receiving or require aged and community care.”

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Tags: ACCPA, budget 2023, catholic health australia, Tom Symondson,

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