10,000 older Australians died on the home care waiting list in FY19/20 – nearly 16,000 waiting for Level 4 package

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Labor is putting pressure on the Morrison Government to “fix the crisis” in home care after evidence to Tuesday’s Senate enquiry into the Government’s COVID response revealed 10,569 people had died on the waiting list in 2019-20.

Another 11,987 deaths were recorded in 2018/19, while 2017/18 saw 10,500 people pass away while waiting for their approved Home Care Package (HCP).

In total, the Department of Health’s First Assistant secretary for Home Care, Dr Nick Hartland, said there were 102,081 people on the waiting list as of 30 June 2020 – 15,874 waiting for the highest Level 4 package. Around 114,000 Australians are currently in receipt of a package.

Department of Health Secretary Dr Brendan Murphy tried to argue that the death rate was comparable to the rest of the population aged over 75 living in the community – a statement that did not go over well with the Labor senators.

Dr Murphy then backtracked somewhat, saying that the Government has acknowledged that the wait list is too high – but again adding that it is a reflection of the normal mortality rate.

Labor’s aged care spokeswoman Julie Collins labelled the numbers “a shameful situation”.

But while next week’s Federal Budget is likely to deliver some relief to those on the wait list, we suspect the billions needed to clear it will not be forthcoming – yet.