The Government has announced $552.9 million in new funding for the sector – including $287 million to fund anther 10,000 level 3 and 4 home care packages – in the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) this week.
Another 70,000 home care recipients will get a helping hand with fees on their packages cut by up to $400 a year for level one packages, $200 for level two and $100 for level three.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has also pledged $98 million to pay GPs more to visit aged care homes to treat patients – all welcome initiatives.
However, the latest data shows the waiting list for home care packages (HCPs) has now stretched to over 126,000 – over 5,000 more than the previous quarter.
That’s despite an average of 2,320 packages being released every week from June to September.
Older Australians are also waiting longer for their HCPs according to the figures – you can now expect to wait between three to six months for a Level 1 packages after being approved to receive home care.
For Level 2, 3 and 4 packages, the waiting time is over a year.
Aged care admissions going up
While these 10,000 new packages will be released over the next six months to 30 June 2019, they are only one-third of the 30,000 high-level packages that the Council on the Ageing (COTA) estimates are needed to urgently address these waiting times.
The effect of this on recipients and their families is devastating.
We have been hearing cases of people being forced to enter aged care early because their families and carers couldn’t provide the high-level support they required.
This is not good enough.
We need a long-term strategy to ensure there is funding for every Australian who wants to stay living at home independently as long as possible.
The Royal Commission into Aged Care will formally begin on 18 January 2019 and will be examining the issue of providing sustainable funding for the sector – but it is not due to deliver its final report until 30 April 2020.
Our politicians can’t leave the current challenges facing aged care up to the Commission to decide.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has stated the Government’s commitment to aged care reforms will continue “at full pace” while the Commission is underway – and the Federal Budget is due to be announced on 2 April.
We hope this includes a firm commitment to funding support and services for older Australians at home – after all, we all deserve to live with dignity and comfort.
For more information about home care packages, visit agedcare101 here.