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Aged care wait lists an “unacceptable problem”

The volume of people waiting for a Home Care Package in Australia is “an unacceptable problem” according to Ian Yates, CEO COTA Australia.

“There are a lot of people who aren’t getting a package at all. Some people are receiving Commonwealth Home Support Program services or services through the allied health system, but a lot of them are just being looked after by a partner or family and friends and that is a real worry,” says Mr Yates.

The Commonwealth Department of Health’s data report for the period 1 October – 31 December 2017 includes increased data visibility. It provides information on waiting time for consumers who have been approved for a package until they are allocated a package. According to the report, as at 31 December 2017, there were 104,602 consumers on the national prioritisation queue for home care across Australia. 54.4 per cent of those in the queue were waiting for a Level 4 package.

Long waitlists can have serious impacts, including:

  • an increase in hospital patient days by people waiting for care
  • people experiencing health decline while they wait
  • an increase of carer burden, including the increase in the personal and economic impact of carers needing to leave fulltime employment

There are four levels of home care packages; Level 1 (basic care) to Level 4 (high care). The greatest wait time is for Level 4 packages. People approved for a higher level package can access a lower level package until the approved package becomes available.

In Victoria, the number of people waiting for packages as at the end of December 2017 were as follows:

Package

Number of people in the queue

Time to first package (months)

Time to approved package (months)

Level 1

104

6–9

6–9

Level 2

7,083

6–9

6–9

Level 3

5,231

6–9

12+

Level 4

10,275

6–9

12+

Total

22,693

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