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Canberra
Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Waitlists for aged-care home packages continue to grow

Residents of Canberra, Queanbeyan and surrounds continue to face growing waitlists for aged care home-care packages despite a Federal Government funding top-up in July of last year. 

Over 1,000 people in Canberra and 1,000 people in the Southern Highlands (which includes Queanbeyan) are waiting for home-care packages.

Nationwide, that number grows to 100,000 – an increase of 4% from the previous reporting period in March 2020.

The figures released by the Federal Department of Health follow the Federal Government’s announcement last July of an additional $325 million for an additional 6,105 home-care packages.

Federal member for Eden-Monaro, Kristy McBain, said the latest figures reveal “just how broken” the country’s aged care system is.

“The waiting lists for home care packages across the country show that 100,000 older Australians are in desperate need for care,” she said.

These figures are heartbreaking and reveal the pain and trauma many local families are feeling as they look to provide care and dignity to our elders.

“When you dig a bit deeper into these numbers from the Productivity Commission, you start to get a sense of the human toll the crisis in our system is having.

“Some on the NSW waiting list, those with the highest needs, are stuck there for almost three years.

“We must do better by our most vulnerable people; the system is failing.”

The home-care packages are just one element of an aged care industry facing mounting criticism.

The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety

The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety released an interim report titled “Neglect” in October 2020 which included testimony that one in five people receiving residential aged care had experienced substandard care.

The Royal Commission made 124 recommendations including:

  • A new Act based on human rights principles for older people
  • A new planning regime for aged care which provides demand-driven access rather than the current rationed approach
  • A new and independent process for setting aged care quality standards
  • An enforceable general duty of care on approved providers
  • Mandated staffing ratios in residential aged care
  • Compulsory registration of personal care workers
  • An independent pricing authority that will determine aged care prices appropriate to the provision of high quality and safe aged care services
  • An independent Australian Aged Care Commission that will be responsible for administering and regulating the aged care system.

Australian human rights law firm, Corrs Chambers Westgarth, said the Commissioners were expected to table their final report to Parliament next month and if adopted and implemented, it would have a “transformative effect” on the sector.

Ms McBain said aged care workers were “doing their absolute best” to provide care and quality of life.

“My mum did this work for many years – people within the system are just as heartbroken,” she said.

“Fixing the waiting lists and investing in aged care should be part of our recovery from bushfires and COVID-19.

“Jobs in the care economy provide meaningful work, especially in country towns, and clearly meet a desperate need.

“People want to be able to grow old within the community that has been their life, close to people and places they know and love, and that is a real challenge in places like Jindabyne and Cooma.”

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