Home Care waiting list blows out

Overall, the number of people waiting for a Home Care Package (HCP) has increased by a massive 3.7 per cent in a single quarter, from 104,602 to 108,456.     

The number of people on the waiting list who had an inadequate HCP or who had been promised an HCP has increased even more, from 47,908 back in the December quarter to 54,821, a clear 14.4 per cent increase in a single quarter.

These increases in the waiting list are just numbers, but they represent human suffering for well over 100,000 older people who get inadequate aged care or no help at all. It means partners providing care where they themselves are struggling and it means people being packed off to nursing homes.

At 31 March over 80 per cent on the waiting list were waiting for the two highest level Home Care Packages. Maximum wait times for older Australians awaiting a high level HCP extended beyond 12 months while for lower level HCPs, they ranged between 3 to 9 months.

Anyone who thinks they may need a Home Care Package in the future, would be well advised to try and get a foot in the door by getting help through the Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHSP).

The CHSP is what used to be called home care and offers low level support with house cleaning and maintenance at the basic level, but also personal care.

Not only is it advisable to get help early through the CHSP if you want to stay in your own home and not go into a nursing home, it is also important to get CHSP because it means you’re in the system. You may be able to get an Home Care Package more easily.

Meanwhile, it is clear that the Government needs to put together a clear plan for how the Home Care Packages waiting list is going to be made a thing of the past.  

This is important to reassure older Australians waiting for a package, but it is also the only way that aged care providers will be able to commit resources to the expansion of their services.

The Government needs to look closely at the needs of people on the national waiting list and at future demand to ascertain what level of additional packages will be required over the next four years to meet people’s needs and minimise waiting times.