Aged care industry body Leading Age Services Australia (LASA) has released survey data suggesting that waiting times for home care packages are longer than published.
LASA’s Home Care Provider Survey Report – March 2019 indicates that maximum wait times for home care are often much longer than even the 12 months listed in the Government’s own figures.
The data, based on a sample of 23 home care package (HCP) providers, representing over 10 per cent of HCPs drawn from LASA’s national membership, shows that wait times for consumers on the national queue are often much longer than those published on My Aged Care.
“LASA’s data also suggests that consumers on interim packages often pass away or enter hospital or residential care before receiving the package that they were assessed as needing,” LASA CEO Sean Rooney said.
To counter these long waiting times, LASA has proposed a number of measures aimed at bringing the maximum wait time for a home care package down to three months.
“LASA recommends reducing HCP wait times to no more than three months from the time of assessment to the time an older Australian receives support in their home,” says Mr Rooney.
“Shorter wait times should be phased in and supplemented by prioritising the queue based on an individual’s financial circumstances. This would see older Australians who have the option of using their own funds or home equity to cover the cost of their care needs, whilst those people with limited resources access care as a priority.”
LASA is also recommending that all unspent HCP funds returned to Government should be recycled into additional HCPs, and the Department of Health should publish clearer guidance for both providers and consumers on appropriate uses of HCP funds.
“Introducing a maximum wait time of no more than three months will provide certainty and stability for older Australians assessed as requiring care and support in their homes and establish a clear expectation that those in need of home care will not be forced to wait an unlimited period of time.
“Recent announcements by Government to increase or bring forward the release of new packages are helpful, but they still leave too many people waiting far too long with no certainty that they will ever receive the care they need,” Mr Rooney said.
“We have suggested the Government spend an additional $500 million per year to meet the needs of the growing numbers of older Australians on the home care national queue.”