National Seniors calls for funding to eliminate home care waiting lists

Leading advocacy group National Seniors Australia has called for an immediate injection of government funding to eliminate the 126,000-strong waiting list for home care packages.

National Seniors CEO Professor John McCallum made the call on the eve of the first day of public hearings at the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.

Prof. McCallum, who will appear before the commission tomorrow (Monday 11 February) said it was imperative the federal government allocated enough money in the April budget to prevent older Australians dying while they waited for essential home care.

“We welcome the additional $280 million for home care packages announced yesterday along with another $320 million for residential aged care, but the government has to stop the drip-feeding of funding,” said Prof. McCallum, an internationally renowned researcher in the field of ageing.

“We have more than 120,000 older Australians who have been through all the hoops and have been assessed as needing home care at a certain level, but they are dying before the help is delivered.

“We know from research here and overseas that shorter wait times for home care packages are associated with improving the life expectancy of older people and their ability to remain in their own homes.

“But people are dying before their time and that has to be our focus.”

Prof. McCallum said the government’s latest figures showed 92,000 of the 126,000 older Australians on the home care waiting list had been approved for high-level 3 and 4 packages, and more than 42,000 had no interim level home care.

“Only a new funding model will eliminate these massive waiting lists, especially given demand will only grow with our ageing population,” he said.

National Seniors has told the Royal Commission in its submission that the impacts of Australia’s ageing population were flagged as early as the 1980s. While policy innovations had been introduced since, the resources needed had never been adequately planned or delivered, despite some unprecedented boom times.

“The Royal Commission is in a unique position to deal with this evident failure,” Prof. McCallum said. “This is of utmost importance because, without adequate public and private investment in well-managed good quality services, neglect and abuse of older Australians cannot be prevented.”

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

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