Leading Age Services Australia (LASA), the voice of aged care, has renewed its request to work with the Government to reduce the over 102,000 queue for approved Home Care Packages (HCP), while maintaining quality care and an adequate workforce.

The June 2020 Quarter statistics show that 102,081 older people were waiting for an offer of their approved HCP, only a slight reduction on the 103,599 waiting in the March Quarter.

“Continuing to live in their own homes is the top preference for most older Australians,” said LASA CEO Sean Rooney.

“The published wait times are grim – accessing the three top-level packages is still over a year and there are reports of much longer waits, of over two years.

“Despite an increase of over 5,000 people receiving a package since the March Quarter, up to 155,625 people accessing a home care package at 30 June 2020, this increase is only half the size of that reported for the December Quarter.

“Demand is constantly growing – and will continue to grow – with the waitlist only dropping by around 1,500 in June.

“We acknowledge the Government’s Budget commitment to roll out 23,000 more packages from November but this must be a continuing priority. New packages need to continue to be released each Quarter at sufficient volume relative to demand in reducing the national queue.

“LASA is advocating to minimise the queue and speed up approved services and we need to work with the Government to make this happen.”

With the Aged Care Royal Commission hearing that the home care queue should be reduced to zero by 31 December 2021, with a one-month wait for an approved package, LASA is conscious of the need to provide additional workforce and maintain quality care if the number of packages greatly expands.

“We support this in principle because we want older Australians to receive the home care services they need and deserve,” Mr Rooney said.

“However, clearing the HCP wait list by almost doubling the current number of packages across the next 12 months will place significant pressures on workforce recruitment, retention and the management of home care providers.

“Not only will there be additional Government costs but keeping up the levels of quality care will be critical and this will need to be accounted for.

“We are calling for greater focus on expanding and incentivising the recruitment of new skilled home care workforce, noting the NDIS is undergoing continued growth and drawing from a similar workforce base.

“Increasing home care and residential aged care staff is a positive way to build the economy, coming out of COVID-19.”

The latest home care statistics are here.

Contact: Nick Way 0419 835 449 nickw@lasa.asn.au