A CENTRAL Victorian advocate says a federal government program providing older Australians with home care is "a failure in its present allocation", citing long wait times.
"People cannot wait 18 months to two years for a package," Ruth Hosking, a member of the Victorian Council on the Ageing's education and peer support group committee, said.
It comes as the national COTA branch calls on the federal government to deliver an "urgent and substantial increase" in the number of home care packages as part of Tuesday's budget.
"Funding must be provided so that no person must wait more than two months to receive the care they need," COTA Australia's pre-budget submission stated.
The submission said the number of new home care packages the federal government funded in the past few financial years was "well short of what [was] required", even though it exceeded 56,000.
"Many tens of thousands of people will be left waiting for more than 12 months before they receive the high care package for which they were assessed," the 21-page document said.
More than 2000 people in the Loddon Mallee region had home care packages at March 31.
Almost 1000 of the region's residents were still waiting on support, most of whom had either low or immediate care needs.
Just short of 500 home care packages were released in the Loddon Mallee region in the March quarter.
There were 192 new entries to home care in the region in that time.
Mrs Hosking believed many people either died or entered aged care before receiving a package.
She said long waits also meant the needs applicants were assessed for could have changed by the time a package was assigned.
"If I was to deteriorate, something in 18 months' time is no help to anyone," Mrs Hosking said.
Story continues below COTA Australia pre-budget submission
COTA Australia estimated the investment needed to address gaps in services and reduce wait times to no more than two months at $2.5 billion a year.
It urged the federal government not to wait until the Royal Commission into Aged Care handed down its final report to act, given the recommendations in the interim report.
The Royal Commission on Thursday called on the federal government to take immediate action to address issues affecting the aged care sector's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Recommendations included increasing funding for staffing, boosting funding for allied health and mental health services, and compelling providers to appoint infection control officers.
The report also recommended a national aged care plan for COVID-19 be published, and a national aged care advisory body be established.
Reflecting on the issues the pandemic had highlighted in residential aged care, Mrs Hosking suggested changing the way government support was provided.
"I think if your needs are residential care, the government subsidy should go to the applicant," she said.
Comment has been sought from the office of Aged Care Minister Richard Colbeck.