Govt urged to deliver home care strategy to meet growing demand

National Seniors Australia today welcomed the Federal Government’s announcement of another 10,000 high-level home care packages, but said a clear strategy was required to address a massive waiting list and future need.

More than 92,000 older Australians were waiting for high-level 3 and 4 packages, National Seniors CEO Professor John McCallum said.

Of these, more than 42,000 people had no interim level home care.

National Seniors continued to hear of cases where people on the waiting list died before they received any assistance. Others were forced into residential care prematurely because their carers couldn’t cope without help.

“We have members telling us of parents who are aged in their late 90s or are even 100+ who aren’t receiving home help despite being approved for it,” Prof. McCallum said.

“One member earlier this month received a letter addressed to his wife, who had died a year earlier from a brain tumour, telling her she could expect to receive some home care within three months, but not necessarily at the level she’d been approved for.”

Prof. McCallum said the Federal Government’s announcement today of an extra $550 million for 10,000 high level home care packages, cuts to fees for another 70,000 older Australians, and an increase in services for regional and remote Australia, was a positive step.

But an industry plan was needed from the government on how it proposed to address the ever-growing demand for home care for seniors who didn’t want to go into residential aged care.

“This is not a new problem,” Prof. McCallum said. “Overall, we have 126,732 people waiting for home care across all four levels of need and the figure keeps growing, despite the government’s increased funding.

“It costs tens of thousands of dollars less every year to keep people at home than in residential aged care, and people want to stay at home. This will also require more respite places for those carrying the burden of care at home.

“This need didn’t blow in like a cyclone! We’ve known we have an ageing population for decades and while the government has pumped a lot of additional funding into home and residential care, it’s always playing catch-up.

“We can’t afford to wait for the Royal Commission into Aged Care to come up with a solution. It’s to the government’s credit that they have started to address the issues now.

“The expertise exists to put together a sustainable and appropriate plan to ensure our older Australians are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve. We just need the leadership and will to do it.”

National Seniors CEO Professor John McCallum is available for comment.

Media contact: Lynda Schekoske 0488 047 380 or 07 3233 9134.

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