OLDER Australians are being urged to apply for home care help as soon as possible to avoid being stuck on a year-long waiting list.
Some of the nation’s 900 home care providers were criticised for high fees and poor service at last week’s aged care royal commission hearings, but the big issue for many seniors is simply getting a home care package.
There are almost 130,000 retirees currently in the queue for a package — which pays between $8250 and $50,250 a year to help seniors live independently.
Aged care comparison service CareAbout’s CEO, Kylie Magrath, said waiting lists were a massive issue and the queue had climbed from 89,000 since June 2017.
“The earlier you apply, the more likely you will be to receive support when you need it,” she said.
Ms Magrath said seniors should “drop the brave face” around getting assistance in their home. “Many older Australians defeat themselves by spring cleaning their house or telling government assessors that everything is fine,” she said.
Ms Magrath said people who were allocated a package had a 56 day time limit to get started before they might lose it, and should check they were not paying too much for services.
“We hear from consumers who want to change providers because their case management fees are 50 per cent or more than $80 an hour. It doesn’t have to be this way.”
Care provider ECH’s chief executive, David Panter, said the Federal Government had announced 40,000 new home care packages in the past year but this still fell short of what was needed to address the escalating waiting list.
“If you require entry-level support — perhaps one or two services a week — register for the Commonwealth Home Support Programme, which is the precursor to a home care package,” Dr Panter said.
“These services include help with household chores, garden maintenance, shopping, transport, personal care and nursing.”
Dr Panter said people should register with the government’s My Aged Care service as soon as possible to join the assessment queue.
“For many people on the waiting list, the reality is that they are either going without essential services or they are having to self-fund care to bridge the gap.”
Leading Age Services Australia says waiting times for home care packages are often longer than 12 months, and it wants this to be reduced to a maximum of three months.
LASA CEO Sean Rooney said this would “better enable older Australians to age well in their homes, close to their families and friends”.
“Recent announcements by the Government to increase or bring forward the release of new packages are helpful, but they still leave too many people waiting far too long with no certainty that they will ever receive the care they need,” he said.
Originally published as Seniors should join the home care queue