LASA urges action on home care wait times

Leading Age Services Australia (LASA) says the waiting list for home care packages is still far too long and the Government must act now to bring down wait times.


Latest data from the Government shows the national queue for home care packages at the appropriate level stands at 112,237, down from 119,524 in the previous quarter.


The data shows nearly 135,000 older Australians now have access to home care, and follows last month’s $537 million funding package announced in response to the Interim Report of the Royal Commission which included $500 million for an additional 10,000 home care packages.


LASA Acting Chief Advocate Tim Hicks says while the extra packages are welcome it is not good enough that more than 112,000 elderly Australians are waiting for a home care package at their approved level.


“Waiting times for a home care package in many locations are still often more than 12 months or longer, and in some cases, over 24 months.


“This Christmas, thousands of older Australians do not know if or when they will receive the support they have been assessed as needing in the home and sadly for many that support will not come in time. Too many die waiting.


“The Government needs to set out a timetable to bring down wait times to less than three months, rather than just making piecemeal announcements of extra packages.


“The Government has used the risk of a ‘pink batts’ situation to justify its failure to act more quickly, however, if Government worked with the sector to establish a reasonable timetable then providers would have little difficulty responding – in fact increased scale would actually help most providers operate more efficiently and reduce administration fees.


“While clearing the queue requires some extra spending, it would also result in savings from reduced spending in other areas.


“There is also a lot that the Government could do to address unmet demand at little cost to the budget bottom line, including promoting and enhancing the pension loans scheme and giving higher priority to those with no means to pay for services privately.


“There is no excuse for the failure of Government to act on these low to no cost options.”


“LASA stands ready to work with the Government and consumer groups to meet the needs of older Australians requiring care in their homes.”


LASA represents providers of age services of all types and sizes located across Australia’s metropolitan, regional and rural areas. 56% of Members are not-for-profit providers, 36% are for-profit providers and 8% are government providers.


See also - Home care packages program: Data Report 1st Quarter 2019-201 July –30 September 2019.


26 December 2019.