This time of year can be full of laughter and cheer. But it can also be a really difficult time if your parents are alone or are struggling to care for themselves. And sometimes, we can’t be there for our loved ones when we want to be.
Demand for in-home aged care is increasing, with many older people across Australia currently waiting in line to be assigned a Home Care Package. The average number of daily approvals has reportedly grown by 23.9% since March this year.
According to The Department of Health Second Home Care Packages data report, which examined the operation of the Home Care Packages Program from 1 July to 30 September 2017, there are now 101,508 consumers in the national prioritisation queue.
The number of people not yet assigned a Home Care Package (awaiting approved level), rose from 53,750 (as of 30 June, 2017) to 60,615 (as of 30 September, 2017) – an increase of about 11%.
During the same period, the number of people assigned an interim lower level package (awaiting approved level) increased from 35,154 to 40,806.
The Home Care Packages Program Report 27 February – 30 June 2017, released in September, reported some people could expect to wait more than 12 months before receiving a Home Care Package.
The recent Home Care Package data report stated individuals who had been approved for a Home Care Package could now access their expected wait time through the My Aged Care Contact Centre or Client Portal.
The government has been working to fill the demand, releasing 6,000 higher level Home Care Packages in mid-September by converting lower level packages.
Just Better Care Chief Operating Officer, Alison Chandler, said many of its franchises had experienced an increase in the uptake of services over the past 12 months as people requested in home support.
“Consumers now have more flexibility when it comes to in-home care. However, too many older Australians are still going without essential care and support,” Ms Chandler said.
“No one wants to see their family struggle at any time of year but Christmas can be a particularly stressful time to be without support. We all know how it feels to be stretched with work and family commitments over the festive and holiday seasons. It can be hard, if not impossible, to be there for everyone.
“Sometimes, waiting for a government-funded package is not an option. The relief is immediate when care and support arrives.”
Ms Chandler said if people have a family member being discharged from hospital, or just need extra support during the holidays, a privately funded package may be the answer.
“Private package options can provide the care and support your family needs quickly,” she said.
“This time of year can be busy and stressful, and we all need a helping hand now and then. We can support your mum or dad to maintain their wellbeing and to continue living safely, independently and confidently in their own home.
“Christmas can also be a lonely time, which is why we offer companion support. Everyone deserves to have some added joy in their lives, whether that be social outings, hosting events with family, or simply chatting over a cup of coffee.