More Home Care Packages funded in 2024-25 Federal Budget

Article published 20 May 2024

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Home Care Packages are hard to come by, and the long waitlist is a common complaint. More funding has been announced, but is it enough?

The 2024-25 Federal Budget has been handed down, and as always, there’s a bit of good news and a whole lot of missed opportunities.

CPSA welcomes the news of measures that are aimed at providing cost of living relief, including the extension of the deeming rate freeze by a further 12 months and a 5-year freeze on Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) co-payments for pensioners.

There will also be a $300 energy rebate for every Australian household. Whilst many of us are left scratching our heads over the news that this will not be means tested, it isn’t bad news for those of us who are struggling to keep up with rising expenses.

One part of the Budget that is of particular interest is the announcement that the Australian Government has allocated $531 million to the Home Care Package (HCP) program, which will provide a further 24,100 packages.

Home care package blow out

The average HCP wait time has blown out over the past 12 months, leaving older people waiting up to 15 months for their package to be approved.

Home care package waitlist

Currently, there are nearly 270,000 people with a HCP who are accessing some level of aged care services at home and a further 51,000 waiting. The wait list nearly doubled in 2023, despite the release of 9,500 new packages in last year’s budget. It is clear that demand is growing faster than the government can meet it. At best, this new funding will only provide enough extra packages to bring the waitlist down to the same level as it was at last year. As new people are constantly entering the system, this is unlikely.

So whilst this injection of funding is good news, it has taken too long and won’t go far enough as demand for home care increases, putting pressure on a failing system. The list of HCP providers continues to drop and many older people who have been assessed and approved still face a further wait to access care as providers can’t keep up. As of December, there were only 902 registered HCP providers, down from 938 in 2022.

The Australian Government cut $2.2 billion dollars of funding from residential aged care last year, justifying this on the basis that more people want to stay home longer. For this to happen, there needs to be greater investment into real solutions.

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