MORE than 700 seniors in the Loddon-Mallee region are waiting on support to live independently in their own homes.
The number of applicants waiting on Home Care Packages at the end of June was almost three times the number of packages released in the region that quarter.
From April to June, 218 Home Care Packages were made available to people in Loddon-Mallee – less than half that of the previous quarter.
Most of the released packages – 153 of them – were for people with basic care needs.
There was a significant decrease in the number of low-level care needs packages released in the June quarter – 41, compared with 353 packages the previous quarter.
Yet it is the most sought after Home Care Package category in the Loddon-Mallee region.
Bendigo aged care advocate Ruth Hosking said the system, which has been in place since February 2017, was not meeting the needs of many of the region’s seniors.
“It’s creating an enormous backlog,” she said.
“There are certainly not enough packages available for those who are eligible.”
A total of 723 people in the Loddon-Mallee region were either not in, or assigned, a lower-level Home Care Package at the end of the June quarter.
It is not known how many of the region’s residents were in a Home Care Package by then, but 1254 people were receiving support at the end of the previous quarter.
Mrs Hosking was aware of people who were waiting 6 -12 months to have packages approved.
“Because people are not getting packages it’s placing stress on the Commonwealth Home Support Program,” she said.
The CHSP is intended to provide entry-level support for older people living in their own homes.
Home Care Packages were devised to provide more complex support, ranging from basic care needs to high-level care packages.
The level of financial commitment from the federal government can range from up to $8271 for a level one package to $50,286 for a level four package.
Mrs Hosking said the time taken for applications to be filed, processed, approved and allocated packages placed people requiring urgent care in a difficult position.
“The impact is earlier admission to residential care or acute care admissions,” she said.
She envisaged an increased number of admissions to such facilities if the need for timely home support was not addressed.
“Waiting 12 months for a package is absolutely ridiculous,” Mrs Hosking said.
Story continues below infographic
She said people could not safely stay in their homes without a support system in place.
A total of 29,225 people were approved for Home Care Packages in Australia in the June quarter.
“The department is working with the assessment workforce to achieve consistency and equity of assessment across Australia,” the government’s most recent Home Care Packages Program data report stated.
The report identified arrangements to ensure people with a high priority get linked with care as soon as possible as particularly important to managing the volume of applications.
“The home care system allows for a nationally consistent and fair process for assigning home care packages based on people’s individual needs and circumstances, regardless of where they live,” the document stated.
Packages were previously allocated to providers, rather than individuals.
“An individual’s place on the national home care queue is based on their original approval date and priority,” the report stated.
Have you signed up to the Bendigo Advertiser's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in central Victoria.