The forthcoming 2018 Federal Budget must address growing challenges in Australia’s beleaguered elderly home-care sector, according to advocacy group Greysafe CEO Mike Cahill today.

“There are an estimated 103,000 older Australians lingering in the national queue for home-care packages.

“More than 60,000 have no package at all, and around 40,000 have a lower-level package than they actually needed,” he said.

“We believe part of the problem is that many older Australians and their families don’t understand that they can reduce the money they are spending on the administration of their home care package and tailor it towards purchasing more of the care services they actually need.”

Mike Cahill said the Federal Government needed to allocate money in the upcoming budget to fund an awareness campaign and for hiring of independent, accredited aged care advisers to help educate older Australians about how to get the best out of their
home-care package.

“One solution for older Australians to be able to better access at home care services could be to receive guidance and advice from a pool of government subsidised, trained and accredited independent advisers to help them access more care services,” he said.

Home-care assistance allows older Australians to live in their own homes and provide everything from cleaning and shopping through visits from a nurse to social interaction.

“Residential aged care should be seen as a last resort due to the social and financial impact on individuals and the system itself.

“Our feedback shows the problem may not always be the level of package, but consumer’s lack of awareness and understanding of the amount of individual funding they have and the various fees that Home Care Providers are charging for administration of the funding and case management.”

Many are paying high administration fees, while also paying a lot for case management they are not receiving or may not need. More informed consumers are doubling the hours of care and support from the same Home Care Package funding amount, but sadly this is currently the minority.

Home-care packages include: Basic care at around $8000pa; low-level care around $14,500; intermediate around $32,500; and high-level care at around $49,500. The yearly subsidy is paid by the government to a provider chosen by the individual.

Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt has blamed the current situation on budget pressures and his agency underestimating skyrocketing demand as more and more adult Australians join the ranks of the elderly

Last February, the Federal Government launched reforms designed to give consumers control over their packages. The Government said it was only then it realised demand was soaring.

Before the changes, older Australians applied for home-care packages with individual providers. There were literally hundreds of waiting lists across the country.

The waiting lists continue to grow and are showing no signs of slowing.

In just six months, from April to October last year, the queue reportedly grew by more than 22,000 people.

The aged-care budget is $18.6 billion this year. Most of that goes to residential care, with about $2 billion spent on home-care.

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