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If you or a loved one have been facing a long wait for a home care package, youre not alone.

According to data released by the Department of Health, the queue of older Australians seeking home care packages has grown by 14 per cent to more than 101,500 in the last quarter.

The quarterly report showed that at September 30, more than 60,000 consumers were waiting to be assigned a package and 41,000 were waiting on a higher level package and were currently receiving services below their assessed care level.

Leading Age Services Australia (LASA) Chief Executive Officer Sean Rooney says this data shows that the Federal Government’s resourcing of its Increasing Choice in Home Care (ICHC) reforms is in urgent need of review.

“The obvious shortfall in resourcing is not only impacting the care available to older Australians but providers are also facing increased challenges to deliver appropriate services and manage risks associated with unmet care needs,” says Mr Rooney.

Of great concern were the number of people on the queue for high-level (level 3 and 4) packages, with Mr Rooney believing that more work needs to be done in the short and long term to make the system more accessible.

“The report showed that 79,000 people nationally were on the queue for a high-level package, up from 67,000 at the end of June, despite the average number of daily approvals for a package growing by 24 per cent since March 2017.

“In the short term, we believe more work needs to be down to ensure that available packages are reaching those who need them most, including re-allocating inactive packages and utilising unspent funds in existing packages.

“Looking towards next year’s Budget, a significant injection of funding will also be required to address the current waiting list and to make the system sustainable in the long term.”

Seasons Aged Care Chief Executive Officer Nick Loudon says that with the system buckling under rapidly increasing demand, it’s important for consumers to understand what aged care options are available to them and make a plan on how they will access the care they need while they are waiting for their assessed level of funding.

“There are care options available while you are waiting for your home care package, but many will involve the client paying directly for these services up front, or as we’re seeing with many of those waiting level 4 packages, they’ll end feeling like they’ve got no other option than to go into residential aged care,” says Mr Loudon.

“A crucial component of the Seasons Model is a funding structure that ensures delivery of the appropriate level of care and support to each individual resident, irrespective of their status within the MyAged Care queue.

“Where access to government subsidised funding is delayed for whatever reason, care and support costs are accrued and deferred (interest free) for the duration of the resident’s stay, meaning the level of care and support the resident receives is not dependent upon the effectiveness of the system, or otherwise. If a resident needs Level 4 high care, that’s exactly what they get.”

This blog was first published on Seasons Aged Care’s blog.

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Belinda Peters
Belinda brings more than 17 years experience in journalism to her role as Seasons Digital Content Writer. As our blog editor, Belinda will take the confusion out of aged care with entertaining and informative stories from across the aged care industry and our Seasons communities.
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