Australian Government must fund more home care packages to meet overwhelming levels of unmet need

Friday, November 1, 2019

‘The Commonwealth must take immediate action to reduce the waiting times for Australians approved for home care packages’, says Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA) Acting Chief Executive Dr Linc Thurecht.

‘Australians who have been assessed as needing aged care services, should not be left waiting in a queue.

‘We have more people waiting for home care packages at their approved level, than are currently receiving packages.

‘Waiting times for those in the queue are too long. The median wait time has continued to increase and it is now 137 days, with many waiting more than a year for higher level care. One quarter of people waiting for a level 4 package are waiting three years.

‘Australian research has shown that shorter wait times for home care packages are associated with people living longer and being able to stay in their own homes.

‘Being unable to access aged care services, or care that is at the appropriate level, has broader impacts outside the aged care sector, with greater burdens placed upon carers, families, communities and the health sector.

‘The Interim Report by the Royal Commission described access to home care and the national prioritisation queue as a ‘cruel and discriminatory system’ and neglectful.

‘Previous reviews have recommended phasing out supply caps for aged care places. For these reforms to be considered and sustainably implemented, we need investment to increase workforce capacity within the sector and better data to measure and monitor unmet need and equity of access.

‘The Interim Report also highlights that there are 6,000 Australians who are aged under 65 years and are living in residential aged care. This is inappropriate—residential aged care is not suitable for younger people.

‘Young people living in residential aged care typically have a complex illness or disability, high care needs and high acuity. Young people living in residential aged care also have social and cultural needs, which often differ from older residential aged care service users.

‘The needs of young people are not always met by residential aged care facilities due to a lack of capability and specific resources.

‘No younger Australians should be entering residential aged care, instead they should receive care in more appropriate settings.

‘The Commonwealth must take action to ensure that younger Australians with high care needs are appropriately supported by the NDIS, in a timely manner, and are not left to languish in residential aged care.

More information on AHHA is available at ahha.asn.au.
AHHA’s submission to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Safety and Quality is available online.

The Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association is the national peak body for public and not-for-profit hospitals, Primary Health Networks, and community and primary healthcare services.

Media enquiries:  Dr Linc Thurecht, A/Chief Executive, AHHA

0401 393 729