Immediate action is needed to reduce the waiting times for Australians approved for home care packages, according to Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA) Acting CEO Dr Linc Thurecht.
“Australians who have been assessed as needing aged care services should not be left waiting in a queue,” he said.
“We have more people waiting for home care packages at their approved level than are currently receiving packages.”
He added that waiting times for those in the queue are too long.
“The median wait time has continued to increase, and it’s now 137 days, with many waiting more than a year for higher level care,” Dr Thurecht said. “One quarter of people waiting for a level 4 package are waiting three years.
“Australian research has shown that shorter wait times for home care packages are associated with people living longer and being able to stay in their own homes.
“Being unable to access aged care services, or care that is at the appropriate level, has broader impacts outside the aged care sector, with greater burdens placed upon carers, families, communities and the health sector.
“The interim report by the [aged care] royal commission described access to home care and the national prioritisation queue as a ‘cruel and discriminatory system and neglectful’.”
Mr Thurecht said the Interim Report also highlights that about 6,000 Australians aged 65 or under are living in residential aged care.
“This is inappropriate”, he said. “Residential aged care is not suitable for younger people.
“Young people living in residential aged care typically have a complex illness or disability, high care needs and high acuity. Young people living in residential aged care also have social and cultural needs, which often differ from older residential aged care service users.
“No younger Australians should be entering residential aged care. Instead, they should receive care in more appropriate settings.”
Mr Thurecht said the federal government must take action to ensure that younger Australians with high care needs are “appropriately supported by the NDIS, in a timely manner, and are not left to languish in residential aged care”.