Maximum home care waits fall to 12 months or less as new Packages make an impact: latest Home Care Packages data

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Over 10,000 older Australians have died waiting for their approved Home Care Package for the last three years with some people waiting years to receive a Level 4 Package.

But the latest Home Care Package data report for the March quarter suggests that the Government has finally managed to shift these numbers down.

The 35-page report – which examines the operation of the Home Care Packages program between 1 January 2021 and 31 March 2021 – states that waiting times for a Level 1 package are now three to six months, while waiting times for Level 2, 3 and 4 Packages are now nine to 12 months.

The report doesn’t explain the drop. In the report for the previous quarter, wait times were still being reported as 12-plus months for the higher-level packages.

COTA Australia Chief Executive Ian Yates (pictured right) says his understanding is the timeframes are correct however.

“The impact of the continued roll out at 40,000 per year is now having a significant impact,” he said.

Ian noted that the figures are also for the medium priority clients, with those deemed higher priority awarded their Packages faster.

“This is in keeping with put advice to the government during the formulation of the Budget package.”

Regardless of the seemingly positive move in wait times, there were still 87,162 people in the National Prioritisation Queue who were waiting on a HCP at their approved level at 31 March 2021.

The volume of people with access to a Home Care Package is steadily increasing – up to 183,376 people, a 5.7% increase since 31 December 2020 and a 20.7% increase since 31 March 2020.

16,252 of these people were still considering whether to take up their offer, while another 16,578 people entered a HCP for the first time.

At 31 March 2021, there were 55,483 people who were seeking a HCP at their approved level, who had not yet been offered a HCP – with 98.1% approved for CHSP.

In total, there were 43,550 HCPs released in the March 2021 quarter – an average of 3,350 per week.

The question is now: will the system – and the workforce – be able to handle the influx of 80,000 new Home Care Packages over the next two years?

Interestingly, the number of approved HCP providers also ticked up to 934 as of 31 March 2021 – an increase of 0.6% (six providers) from 31 December 2020 (928) and an increase of 1.3% (12 providers) since 31 March 2020 (922).

As we have reported in SATURDAY, the number of new approved home care providers has bottomed out since the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission (ACQSC) took responsibility for the function on 1 January 2020 – in line with its toughened stance on quality and safety.