From the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety:
Unspent funds and long waiting periods
The long wait for home care packages is forcing some older people to enter residential care prematurely because of carer burn-out.
In recent testimony from CEO of the Older Person’s Advocacy Network (OPAN) Craig Gear, he said OPAN received between 230 and 240 calls a week relating to home care, including waiting times, fees and charges, and choice of care.
“What they’re telling us is the wait times are just too long and the level of support that they are getting is not meeting their needs … supply is not meeting demand in Australia at the moment,” he said.
77-year-old Kaye Warrener told the commission about her husband of 56 years, Leslie, approved for a Level 3 Home Care Package November 2017.
Five months later, Kaye and Leslie were told their package would arrive in three months. They didn’t hear anything until a couple of weeks ago – when they were provided with a Level 2 package instead. “You’re given false hope that a package is coming through, but you cannot find out exactly what’s happening.”
So what is the latest news on Home Care Package wait times?
There’s one very clear take-out message: if you’re thinking of applying for funding to support you living at home, do it as soon as possible.
The figures, released in late last year, show that the waiting list has reached a whopping 121,000 people. It’s growing fast: from 88,000 in June 2017 to 108,000 in March 2018, to this new figure as of the end of June 2018.
What does that mean for wait times? According to the Government’s MyAgedCare website, most people will wait more than 12 months for their package to come through. Wait times are slightly shorter for the lower level care packages.
While you can apply for an interim, lower-level care package to tide you over while you wait for your application to be approved, there is also a waiting list for these interim packages – expect 3 to 6 months.
The moral of the story: Start the process of applying for a Home Care Package as soon as you have identified your need for support to stay at home. Remember, even before you get on that wait list, you’ll need to complete an Aged Care Assessment and an Income and Assets Assessment, all of which takes time. Even if you don’t feel 100% ready for home care now, the likelihood is that by the time it comes through, you will be.
What are your options while waiting for your package?
Following from the topic of unspent funds, raised during evidence last week, the Royal Commission has also heard the combination of unspent home care funds and competition of providers has created a “perverse incentive” for providers to spend the money inappropriately.
The latest figures show that home care providers are currently accumulating about $6,000 of unspent funds per client a year. The cash, laying idle, was creating a temptation for funds to be used “in a way that is not material to someone’s real needs.”
The unspent funds may accumulate as a result of consumer choosing to save some of their budget in the event of a future need, because they do not require all the funds allocated to them or the care/case managers are simply not advising people of all of their care options.
It is vitally important to shop around, switch home care providers if needed and know your home care options. We find many of the people enquiring about home care, through our site, are interesting in switching but willing to settle in order to not rock the boat or because the process is seen as too confusing.
Questions to ask when researching home care providers
Thinking of switching home care providers?
What to do if you are unhappy with your home care
What is case management and what can it do for you?
How can you help?
The Commission has now received over 1,200 public submissions from residents, families and aged care workers which is a great start and there are two public community forums scheduled.
The first is today in Bankstown in Sydney and the second in Bendigo in Victoria on Tuesday 5 March.
Future forums can be found here.
The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety wants to hear from the Australian community about their experiences of and ideas about aged care:https://agedcare.royalcommission.gov.au/Engagement/Pages/default.aspx
Dr Cumpston, mentioned above, is also seeking input from people working in the sector and health professionals and specialists about ways to measure any quality problems they have encountered.
He can be contacted on [email protected]