AFTER all the excitement of a Royal Commission into Aged Care being announced, the spotlight seems to be on nursing homes, but the entire aged care system, including community aged care, is in crisis.
Three out of four people who have a Home Care Package are on an inadequate package.
Home Care Packages come in four levels. Only one in four people has the right level package as assessed by the Department of Health.
Half of those eligible for a package (but not getting one) are getting assistance through the Commonwealth Home Support Program, which provides domestic assistance and limited personal care.
As at 30 June 2018, there were 84,971 active Home Care Packages. Of those, 64,668 were used by people waiting for a higher level package. As a result 76 per cent of packages are used by people who need more and/or different care.
Of those 64,668 people on an inadequate package, 56,481 (almost nine out of ten people) were waiting for a level 3 or 4 package. These are the highest levels of care, comparable to what a nursing home is meant to provide.
56,750 people who have been assessed as needing a package but who don’t have one, about half – say 28,000 – get assistance through the Commonwealth Home Support Program.
The Department also points out that three-quarters of those waiting for a Home Care Package have been approved for entry into a nursing home.
There are a number of questions here which need answers.
Given the Home Care Packages Program’s heavy reliance on both the Commonwealth Home Support Program and residential aged care as fall-back options, shouldn’t there be detailed reporting on waiting lists for those types of care as well? The quarterly Home Care Packages Program Data Report is very good if you look past the spin, but there’s nothing like it for the Home Support Program or residential aged care.
Another question. How many people who need just a little help around the house can’t get the Home Support Program because of the Home Care Packages waiting list?
How many people who are on the Home Care Packages waiting list end up in a nursing home unnecessarily and essentially against their will?
Given that the proportion of people with an inadequate Home Care Package has risen on average by 6 per cent per quarter from 57 per cent at the end of September 2017 to 76 per cent at the end of June 2018, are we less than one year away from the Home Care Packages Program being entirely mis-allocated with literally everyone in the program on the wrong package, except those on HCP level 4 packages?
Given the enormous demand for Home Care Packages, why are they being trickled out? Why not reduce expensive residential aged care places and create many more, much cheaper Home Care Packages?
We should be told.