Monday, 11 December 2017 11:02

Data reveals need for urgent action on home care reform, says care provider

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Data reveals need for urgent action on home care reform, says care provider Image courtesy of Witthaya Phonsawat at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Newly released data shows there is growing demand for home care services for older Australians, promoting a call for an urgent need for a review of government resourcing of its "Increasing Choice in Home Care" reforms.

Responding to newly released data from the Department of Health, Leading Age Services Australia chief executive Sean Rooney said it was clear from the data that the ICHC programme was facing compounding challenges and that further financial and operational investment was needed to successfully implement the reforms.

He said LASA welcomed the transparency of information made available through the Department’s quarterly release of the Home Care Package Programme Data Reports.

“This data provides a robust lens through which we can see how the ICHC programme is performing and inform improvements to the way we deliver subsidised care to older Australians in their homes.”

Rooney cautioned that the "obvious shortfall in resourcing is not only impacting the care available to older Australians but providers are also facing increased challenges to deliver appropriate services and manage risks associated with unmet care needs".

“The quarterly report showed that at 30 September more than 60,000 consumers were waiting to be assigned a package and 41,000 were receiving services below their assessed level of need.  

“The report also showed that 79,000 people nationally were on the queue for a high-level package, up from 67,000 at the end of June, despite the average number of daily approvals for a package growing by 24 per cent since March 2017.”

According to Rooney the home care reforms, in aiming to support consumer choice, are “absolutely right in principle, but were being challenged by the implementation of significant system changes, whilst also straining to keep up with growing demand”.

“In the short term, we believe more work needs to be done to ensure that available packages are reaching those who need them most, including re-allocating inactive packages and utilising unspent funds in existing packages.

“Looking towards next year’s Budget, a significant injection of funding will also be required to address the current waiting list and to make the system sustainable in the longer term.”

 And Rooney said LASA recognised that the Federal Government’s reform agenda in aged care “is necessary and ambitious”.

“LASA and our members stand ready to work with the Government and others to resolve the identified issues in the service of older Australians.”

LASA also welcomed the Department of Health’s recent enhancements to the My Aged Care system to address concerns raised by providers about home care package withdrawals.

To read the full report from the Department of Health click here.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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