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Funding boost to CHSP sparks calls for more home care packages

An announcement of increased Government funding to better support senior Australians to remain living independently in the comfort of their own homes has been welcomed with reservation throughout the sector with a number of aged care peak bodies making the call that what is really needed is more home care packages to help make a dent in the growing waiting list.

Increased funding has been welcomed, but the aged care sector is saying more home care packages are what is needed (Source: Shutterstock)
Increased funding has been welcomed, but the aged care sector is saying more home care packages are what is needed (Source: Shutterstock)

The additional funding boost of $100 million announced by the Liberal National Government over two years will be used to help existing providers of the $5.5 billion Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP) grow domestic assistance, meals, transport, home maintenance and home modification services .

“Our Government is committed to giving senior Australians as many choices as possible to remain living in the security of the homes they love, close to their families and connected with their communities,” a Department of Health spokesperson says.

An additional $50 million per year will be also offered to a selected group of successful existing CHSP service providers to meet demand from 2018-19, with the first payments to reach providers in January 2019.

Despite the announced funding being a welcome addition, aged care peak organisations are also urging more support for people on the long waiting list who require high level home care.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Leading Age Services Australia (LASA) Sean Rooney, says as the CHSP is ‘block allocated’ to community service agencies who typically provide lower level support services, more needs to be done to address the waiting list of 121,000 older Australians, including many with high care needs.

“Over recent months, LASA Members have reported limited access to some CHSP service types,” he says.  

“This has been communicated to both the Department of Health and Department of Social Services and it is pleasing to see the Government respond.”

Mr Rooney says the funding is distinct from the home care package program and will not provide any new personally tailored home care packages.

“The latest data on home care packages released last Friday revealed the waiting list had grown by a further 13,000 in just three months,” Mr Rooney says.

“It is clear that the home care package program is facing compounding challenges and that further financial and operational investment is needed to successfully implement these reforms.”

Mr Rooney says the level of care made possible through the CHSP or Home Care Packages Programs fails to address the high needs of many older Australians on the waiting list, which leads to higher incidences of hospitalisation and early entry into residential aged care. 

“LASA calls on the Government to develop a sustainable funding strategy for home care by looking at all the available public and private funding levers,” he says.

Other aged care peak bodies agreed.

 “We welcome the funds allocated through the CHSP for important additional services like domestic assistance, meal deliveries, transport and home maintenance but remain alarmed at the number of people on the waiting list for the Home Care Package (HCP),” CEO of Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA), Pat Sparrow says.

“There remains a large group of older Australians whose needs are quite simply not being met and who are at a time of their life when they simply cannot afford to wait. The Government must act now to address that,” Executive Director of Anglicare Australia, Kasy Chambers says.

Worryingly, it is not certain how current funding commitments will meet the projected need of an estimated 140,000 by 2021/22, an extra 66,000 packages.

ACSA, Anglicare Australia, Baptist Care Australia, Lutheran Aged Care Albury, Presbyterian Care Australia, Uniting Care Australia made the following recommendations for Australia’s home care:

  • A recommitment to, and action on, the integration of the CHSP and the HCP Program to give older Australians an end to end home care system supporting both low and higher-level needs as when individuals require support
  • Increasing investment in home care, including immediately releasing more HCPs, in particular more level 3 and 4 HCPs to directly reduce the number of clients awaiting care and support
  • Ensuring adequate resourcing of a skilled, integrated assessment service to ensure people are assessed at the level of support they need in a way that maintains as much independence as possible
  • Reducing the wait time for commencement of support services for those on the waitlist by:
    • Supporting individuals to understand and make decisions about the home care they require, especially people from special needs groups including Culturally and Linguistically Diverse, Indigenous and homeless people

    • Reducing the decision-making period for activating a HCP from 56 days to 28 days

    • Reviewing “unspent funds” to ensure maximum use of available funds to support individual’s needs

    • Removing consumer cost incentives to remain under the CHSP.

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