Worker shortage as home care list drops

Advocates warn labour shortage could affect home care provision

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WHERE ARE THE WORKERS? Advocates concerned labour shortages will impact access to home care packages.

WHERE ARE THE WORKERS? Advocates concerned labour shortages will impact access to home care packages.

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New data shows more than 74,000 seniors waiting on an approved level care package

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Despite the Federal Government's commitment of $6.5 billion funding for 80,000 new home care packages, there are still more than 74,000 older Australians waiting on a package at their approved level.

However, there is some good news on the HCP front, with September data showing the number of people who were able to access a HCP growing by 41,000 to 204,146 in 12 months.

Peak body National Seniors Australia, while welcoming the news that the waiting list was clearing, cautioned that thousands of people were still waiting for support at a time of unprecedented labour shortages.

"After years of delays, exposed shamefully during the royal commission, we're finally starting to see a significant drop in the wait list which has seen as many as 16,000 people die waiting, in one 12 month period," said chief advocate Ian Henschke.

"We urge the government or whoever wins the next election to urgently address the shortage of quality workers.

"There's already a successful pilot program to train mature age workers in home care. This must be rolled out across the country to entice mature workers, particularly women, back into the workforce," he said.

The Home Care Packages Program Data Report (1st Quarter 2021-22) shows 185,570 people in a HCP and 17,576 assigned a package but still considering whether to accept it.

There were 51,662 people seeking an HCP at their approved level who had not received one. Around 98 per cent of these had been offered help through the basic care Commonwealth Home Support Program. More than 26,000 people with complex care and dementia needs were waiting on high level 3 and 4 packages.

The data also shows the wait time for a Level 1 package is three to six months and the wait time for all other packages is six to nine months.

There were 913 approved HCP providers. The average package exit fee was $202 with eight providers charging $1,000 or more exit fee.

"Senior Australians want more choice, they want support to remain in control, to stay connected to their community and to remain as independent as possible, in their own home," said Senior Australians and Aged Care Services Minister Richard Colbeck.

In addition to the 40,000 home care packages released in 2021-22, another 40,000 packages will become available in 2022-23 making a total of 275,600.

The government is currently designing a new home care system, to be introduced mid 2023, which will replace the CHSP, HCP, short term restorative care and residential respite programs.

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