Plans for a consolidated home care program have been postponed until 2027, the government has announced.
An amalgamation of the existing Home Care Packages Program, the Short-Term Restorative Care Program and the Commonwealth Home Support Program, was most recently planned to launch as the new Support at Home Program from 1 July 2025.
However, in a statement released on Tuesday evening by the office of the Minister for Aged Care Anika Wells, it has been revealed that CHSP – by far the largest component of the Support at Home Program – won’t be included until “no earlier than 1 July 2027”.
“I have listened to CHSP providers who have advocated for more time to prepare for reforms to ensure they can transition their operations and clients smoothly,” said Ms Wells.
From 1 July 2025, Support at Home will still replace the existing HCP and STRC programs.
The staggered approach will give CHSP providers “time to change their business systems and adjust to new payment arrangements,” reads the statement. “This will ensure they can operate successfully under Support at Home and avoid disruptions for their clients.”
More than 800,000 older Australians received home care services through CHSP during the 2022-23 financial year, while 258,300 seniors accessed a HCP and fewer than 1,400 STRC over that period.
Support at Home has been plagued by delays. Due to launch in July 2023, the program was postponed by the new Labor government, which – due to stakeholders’ concerns – pushed the launch back 12 months to July 2024.
Then, 10 months later, the government announced a further 12-month postponement, delaying the launch until July 2025.
If the consolidated home care program does eventually launch in 2027, it would have been on the table for 12 years. Featuring in a Coalition government budget in 2015, it was first due to rollout in 2018.
In the statement, the Department of Health and Aged Care has assured HCP and STRC providers that it will support them to ensure they are prepared to transition to Support at Home “well ahead of 1 July 2025.”
“We will continue to work with in-home care providers to deliver a Support at Home program that will simplify and improve access to services for older people,” said Ms Wells.