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Government action on 50,000+ home care waiting list very welcome but longer term solution needed soon

15 September 2017

Leading seniors advocate COTA Australia has welcomed the Turnbull government’s action to transparently report on and address the significant number of older people on home care waiting lists and has urged government to turn its attention to longer term solutions no later than the next federal budget.

The Home Care Packages Program Data Report released by the federal government today reveals, for the first time, the full extent of the issues many older people and their families have been experiencing. At 30 June 2017 there were over 53,000 people waiting for a home care package and over 35,000 more on a lower package than they have been approved to receive.

COTA Australia Chief Executive said the new report was a critical litmus test for an aged care system that is not yet meeting the needs of many older Australians across the country, particularly for high level support and care in their home.

“This report reveals a shortfall in the number of home care package and a misallocation between lower and higher levels of packages, far greater than most expected,” Mr Yates said.

“It’s shocking that over 53,000 older people are reported as having been assessed as needing care at home and yet are simply not getting it; and another 35,000 are receiving a level of care below what they have been assessed as needing.

“That’s nearly 90,000 elderly Australians going without any or enough physiotherapy, or home help, or support for showering and other personal care, or transport to appointments.

“As a result, older people either suffer, waiting, or additional pressures are placed on families and neighbours to fill the gaps. This is not sustainable.”

Mr Yates warmly welcomed the government’s announcement of immediate action to transfer a substantial number of lower level packages into 6000 higher care packages to ensure more people with highest needs get care as soon as possible.

“The shortfall of support is most chronic for people requiring the highest levels of care at home, a Level 3 or Level 4 Package. An urgent rebalancing from low care to high care packages will address this in the short term, even though that temporarily reduces the total number of packages.

“Ultimately though, what we need to see is bipartisan support for prompt reform of the whole system to keep pace with need and deliver more packages to more people.

“This could start with transferring resources from residential aged care to home care packages, as recommended by the Tune report, which can be done within the current funding envelope, and should be considered as soon as possible, without holding back until the next Budget.

“We are part way through a major reform program and today’s release of the data and the Tune Review Report again highlights the need to keep up the momentum to see these reforms through.”

Media contact: Ian Yates 0418 835 439, Bronte Kerr 0411 676 269

Download full media release

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