Home Care Packages program continues in crisis mode

Article published 1 February 2019

Home Care Packages program continues in crisis mode

IN December last year, the sixth Home Care Packages Program Data Report came out for the September 2018 quarter and it’s becoming something like a broken record.

The news was bad. There were 92,000 Packages allocated, just short of 58,000 of those who had a Package had a lower Package than for which they had been approved That’s two-thirds of the whole HCP program in the wrong Package.

A further 69,000 people approved for a Package had no Package at all. This means the waiting list for the HCP program is 127,000 people.

It is very disappointing to see that although during the September 2018 Quarter an average of only 2,320 home care packages were released each week when just to keep pace with new demand, the average weekly release in September should have been 409 more packages, 2,729 to be precise. As a result of that shortfall, the waiting list for Home Care Packages grew by 5,314 in just one quarter.

The worst thing is that it seems that the Australian Government has no plan to stop the horrendous blow-out in the Home Care Package waiting list and that it has no plan to get to a point where no one needs to wait for a Home Care Package for a significant period of time.

Let’s be clear, at the end of September 2018, two-thirds of people (57,646) who have a package have a lower package than they need and a further 69,000 people have no package at all.  Their ‘supports’ are the Commonwealth Home Support Programme or a nursing home, for which 89,773 people (71 per cent of the overall waiting list), have a current approval. This means that if you need anything over and above help with showering, you’re more than likely going to end up in a nursing home.

Subtract from the waiting list the 10,000 new high-level Home Care Packages announced shortly after the September 2018 quarter report was published, you’re still left with a very serious situation in the Home Care Package program.

A commitment must be formulated which transitions the aged care system from the $12.2 billion funded nursing home model to a model where Home Care Packages and other in-home care are the default. Home Care Packages and other in-home care currently get $5.3 billion a year, including the additional funding announced in December 2018.

The plan can be simple: use nursing home money to fund Home Care Packages, because people don’t want nursing homes. They want home care.

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