In an attempt to slash the waiting list for home care, the government has announced the release of 40,000 new packages for this financial year and 40,000 for next year.
The allocation of the 80,000 new home care packages (HCP) worth $6.5 billion, will equate to 750 new packages each week which is less than the number (3,350 per week) which was released in the first quarter of 2021.
March quarter data showed there were still 87,162 people waiting on a package at their approved level. More than 60 per cent (55,483) had not been offered any package, however, the majority of these (54,415) had been offered help through the basic-level Commonwealth Home Support Program.
There were still 6,380 of the most vulnerable and high needs older Australians waiting on Level 4 packages.
Of the 40,000 new packages to be released in 2021/22, 19,000 will be level 2, 20,000 level 3 and 6,000 level 4, while 5,000 people on level 1 packages will be re-assigned to a higher level.
Wait times to access an approved level package continue to be high with the estimated three to six month wait for a level 1 HCP and nine to 12 months for levels 2 - 4.
The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety addressed the issue of HCP wait times, with the Commissioners saying: "In the current aged care system, older people often wait too long to get access to care at home.
"Without access to home care services that meet their assessed needs, people face risks of declining function, preventable hospitalisation, carer burnout, premature entry to residential aged care, and even death."
Annual sssurance reviews will also apply to home care providers from November 2021. The reviews will examine fees and charges applied by home care providers, to ensure they are not not charging unjustified costs.
At March 31 there were still eight home care providers charging an exit fee (an amount that can be deducted by a HCP provider from a person's unspent HCP amount if the person leaves their care) of $1,000 or more. The average exit fee was $210 but almost 44 per cent of providers said they would charge no exit fee.