The CEO of Council on the Ageing Australia (COTA) says the $1.6 billion for the extra 14,000 Level 3 and 4 Home Care Packages (HCPs) is real and comes from an expenditure shortfall in the residential care Budget line item due to falling occupancy rates in residential aged care.
According to Finance Department rules, it should have gone back to Consolidated Revenue, but COTA lobbied the Government to put the funding back into expenditure. “It was one of the last Budget decisions,” he confirms.
The 14,000 HCPs are added to the growth already planned. In total, level 3 and 4 packages will grow by 34,000 between now and 2021-22 – almost double.
Total HCPs will jump by 64,000, from 87,000 now to 151,000 in 2021/22. That includes an increase of 24,000 next year and 23,000 the following year – “significant growth” according to Mr Yates, but one that raises “a good question as to whether we have the staff”.
Mr Yates says as the residential care and home care budgets will be merged from 1 July, any shortfall in residential funding will be able to be taken up on HCPs.
We still need more high level HCPs to meet demand – but where will the workers come from?