MEDIA RELEASE: COTA calls on Federal Budget to end cruel, unfair, disrespectful and discriminatory home care nightmare

Peak older persons advocate, COTA Australia, today called on the Federal Government to end the nightmare facing older Australians waiting for high level home care, by responding to one of the first findings of the Aged Care Royal Commission with a major investment of at least $1.25 billion in Home Care Packages in next week’s Federal Budget.

In the Aged Care Royal Commission hearing last Friday senior Counsel Assisting, Dr Tim McEvoy QC, submitted that “The waiting times to which older Australians have been subjected, in between being assessed as needing home care packages and actually receiving funding for care, are severe and unacceptable.  This has caused great suffering and continues to do so.  The long waiting lists are cruel, unfair, disrespectful and discriminatory against older Australians.” (COTA emphasis)

Dr McEvoy also said: “Community expectations would be that older Australians receive the care that they need without delay.  At the highest level of need, being a level 4 package, as at 30 June 2018, the waiting time was almost two years.  The waiting time between assessment and the allocation of the funding must be reduced as closely as practicable to zero”.

COTA Australia Chief Executive, Ian Yates said: “we welcome confirmation by the Health department, in testimony by First Assistant Secretary, Fiona Buffinton during the same hearing, that to reduce the Home Care Package waiting times to no more than three months, as COTA has called for, will cost between $2 billion and 2.5 billion per year”.

“COTA recognises that government has many claims on its expenditure, but it should provide at least $1.25 billion per year extra in this Budget to cover half the backlog and commit to a funding plan to fully remove waiting lists within two years, or at most three,” Mr Yates said.

“This is not a new situation “it has just become more starkly obvious since mid-2017 with the creation of a single national queue; but people have been dying while waiting for high level packages for years.

“It’s a nightmare that for many never comes to a positive end.

“With the Budget going into surplus and tax cuts on the agenda of both major political parties, it is past time to redress the “cruel, unfair, disrespectful and discriminatory” situation that older Australians in need of care and support have been suffering for many years.

“Older Australians needing aged care do not have time to wait for “more favourable” Budget conditions – they are at real and substantial risk now; having been assessed by government assessors as needing high levels of care.

“Tax cuts don’t help them – aged care support in their home will allow them dignity, respect and support in their latter stages of life.

“We don’t need to wait for the Royal Commission’s report – the evidence to the Commission, and its findings about that, are clear – so we need action now to end the home care nightmare” Mr Yates said.

 Media contact: Ian Yates 0418 835 439, Jenny Stokes 0478 504 280