MEDIA RELEASE: Despite more home care packages too many older Australians still left waiting

News today that the number of older Australians supported by home care packages has increased is welcome but COTA Australia, the peak older person’s advocacy group, said the Federal Government still has much more work to do to ensure older Australians get the support they need.

Figures released today show a five per cent increase in the take up of home care packages over the last three month period for which data is available, but a total of more than 108,000 people are still waiting for appropriate levels of care, of whom around 30,000 receive no support.

Chief Executive of COTA Australia, Ian Yates, said that while the increase in home care packages available to Australians is welcome, there are still too many Australians missing out on the support they need.

“While there will be 24,000 more packages released in this financial year after the Federal Budget increase, funding for even more packages is still urgently required for those Australians who are desperately waiting for home care,” Mr Yates said.

“We need the Federal Government to commit to increasing funding for home care packages to ensure the waiting time for new packages is substantially reduced – waiting a whole year for a high-level package is unacceptable in a modern Australia.

COTA is calling on the Federal Government to commit to:

  • Funding additional home care packages in MYEFO in November and in next year’s budget;
  • Ensuring wait times are reduced to no more than three months after assessment;
  • Publishing the estimated quarterly release of packages in advance and by package level;
  • Releasing data within two months of the end of each quarter.

“There’s been an enormous shift in Australians’ preferences for home care packages, as opposed to residential care. Around 40 per cent of aged care places are projected to be home care packages by 2021 – up from just one per cent 25 years ago,” Mr Yates said.

“COTA has long said that more home care packages are needed and today’s figures back that up.

“Both the Minister for Aged Care, Ken Wyatt, and the Treasurer have agreed since the Budget that even more home care packages are needed, but we need to see the Federal Government commit to concrete targets and to put a timetable in place to make sure that happens.

“Australians are crying out for home care support and while that’s fast becoming a reality for many people, the reality is that too many Australians are still waiting.”

Mr Yates also called on the Federal Opposition to commit to the three month waiting time target if elected in the new year.

Media contact: Ian Yates 0418 835 439, Alana Mew 0419 929 722

COTA Australia is the peak policy development, advocacy and representation organisation for older Australians, representing COTAs in every State and Territory and through them over 500,000 older Australians.