$850 Million Won’t Solve Home Care Deficit

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Home care packages are needed to help older Australians to live at home
Home care packages are needed to help older Australians to live at home Photo by CDC on Unsplash

The Government has increased the amount of home care packages for the elderly, but it’s just a small dent in demand.

On December 16 10,000 new home care packages worth over $850 million were announced, bringing to 40 000 the total new home care packages announced this financial year.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the additional home care packages reflected the need to support older Australians to live independently.

“The health and wellbeing of older Australians is an absolute priority,” Mr Morrison said on December 16. 

“By providing more support to people at home, we are ensuring that Australians, as they age, have greater choices and their families have greater choices.”

The home care waiting list has reduced from 130,000 to 100,000 since March this year, Aged Care Minister Richard Colbeck said.

More Packages Urgently Needed

Council on the Ageing (COTA) CEO Ian Yates said each year 10,000 people die waiting for home care packages, and 19 000 people are forced into residential care before their package arrives.

“It is vitally important that older Australians are afforded the respect and dignity of being supported to live in their own home as long as they are able to with proper supports,” Mr Yates said.

“The current system simply isn’t working, with many people waiting over 12 months for their package and lots of money being wasted.”

“The Morrison Government must continue rolling out these new home care packages to reduce wait times to one month by the end of 2021 deadline.”

Royal Commission: Change the Home Care System?

Mr Yates said it was likely the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety would call for a more efficient and individualised home care system.

“The widespread expectation is that they’ll come up with a proposal that people ought to be assessed against their individual needs and not against an arbitrary set of amount of money, which is what packages are. And that’s not going to happen overnight.”

“There’s about $1 billion unspent in the current programme. What that indicates is that those packages are not tailored to individual need, and that amount of money could be being used for more people.”

The Royal Commission Counsel Assisting’s recommendations call for Government to clear the home care waiting list, reduce package waiting time to within a month of assessment, and be publicly accountable for the state of the waiting list by March 2021.

The Royal Commission’s final report will be available on February 26 2021.

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