"Complex, inefficient, expensive": Aged care funding fight
SUE Brooks feels like she has done 10 rounds with My Aged Care.
After spending months navigating the "complex, inefficient and expensive system", she felt certain her 93-year-old father would die before funding came through.
The Dundowran Beach carer says the system needs an overhaul to make it more accessible for the elderly and their loved ones.
Tom, Sue's father, has dementia and is legally blind and deaf.
He went to live with his daughter in 2017, not wanting to move into the unfamiliar environment of an aged care facility.
Not only has Sue been "frustrated to the point of tears" with the extended wait-time for her father's funding package to be delivered, she has also struggled finding accurate information.
"I was sure he'd die before we got the package," she said.
"Trying to get information was like pulling teeth."
Sue and Tom are far from alone.
Chief advocate for National Seniors Australia Ian Henschke yesterday said too many older Australians were dying before receiving home care packages.
He said the new figure of 120,000 older Australians waiting for a package showed the situation was still in crisis and needed to be urgently addressed.
"We continue to hear of people dying waiting for the home care package they desperately needed and others ending up in residential care prematurely," Mr Henschke said.
"Older Australians overwhelmingly want to stay in their home which costs the government less than placing them in nursing homes."
Mr Henschke said the Royal Commission into Aged Care revealed 16,000 older Australians died waiting for a home care package last year.
He said the high-level packages, including levels three and four, were the most important.
Tom Brooks was approved for a level four package and waited eight months before receiving an interim level three package.
It was almost a year before Tom received his full funding entitlement, which was then given to an agency to manage for him.
My Aged Care is a federally-funded system designed to keep senior citizens in their homes longer.
It also aims to keep the elderly connected to the community through four-tier funding packages.
The Fraser Coast falls within the Wide Bay Aged Care Planning Region, which as of March 31, 2019, had 1073 people who had yet to be offered a home care package.
A Department of Health spokesman said of these people, 96 per cent were approved for access to services through the Commonwealth Home Support Programme.
He said once assessed by an Aged Care Assessment Team, a person is then placed in the national priority system based on their date of approval and priority for services.
"The national priority system allows home care packages to be assigned in a consistent and equitable way based on people's individual needs and circumstances, regardless of where they live," he said.
"Although there are wait times for home care packages, people with an urgent and immediate need for services who are at risk of rapid cognitive or physical decline, are provided with a high priority for care and move through the national priority system significantly quicker."
The spokesman said aged care programs did not replace primary care as part of the broader health system, including services accessed through general practitioners and hospitals.
"In recognition of the demand for home care the government has invested an additional $2.2 billion into the Home Care Packages Program since the 2018-19 Budget," the spokesman said.