Leading Age Services Australia (LASA) has today welcomed the Federal Government’s announcement of an additional $100m over two years in Commonwealth Home Support Provider (CHSP) funding for existing providers.
LASA CEO Sean Rooney says the CHSP funding program is ‘block allocated’ to community service agencies who typically provide lower level support services to older people in their homes.
“Over recent months, LASA Members have reported limited access to some CHSP service types. This has been communicated to both the Department of Health and Department of Social Services and it is pleasing to see the Government respond.
Mr Rooney said that while very welcome, the funding is distinct from the home care package program and will not provide any new personally tailored home care packages to the 121,000 older Australians now on the waiting list, including many with high care needs.
“The latest data on home care packages released last Friday revealed the waiting list had grown by a further 13,000 in just three months,” Mr Rooney said.
“It is clear that the home care package program is facing compounding challenges and that further financial and operational investment is needed to successfully implement these reforms.
“The latest data shows that almost 57,000 people in the national queue have no home care package support, even at a level below what they need.
“While some of these people are instead receiving support through the Commonwealth Home Support Program, the level of support offered is less than what they have been assessed as needing.
“The Government strategy appears to be to provide a basic level of care for as many people as possible either through the CHSP or Home Care Packages Programs.
“This approach overlooks the high needs of many on the waiting list, leading to higher rates of hospitalisation and early entry to residential aged care.
“These impacts run counter to the intention of the Home Care Packages Program in facilitating ‘ageing in place’ for older Australians.
“And it is those who cannot afford to pay extra for the higher level care they have been assessed as needing who are most vulnerable.”
Mr Rooney said the home care reforms are ‘absolutely right in principle’, but are being challenged by the implementation of significant system changes, whilst also straining to keep up with growing demand.
“Assuming the same split between package levels as for current clients, LASA estimates that to fill the unmet demand would cost in the order of $685 million per annum, after the new packages in 2018-19 are taken into account.
“LASA calls on the Government to develop a sustainable funding strategy for home care by looking at all the available public and private funding levers,” he said.