Far North aged-care queues compared with national rate
Far North aged-care queues compared with national rate

‘Difficult work’: Aged-care queues blow out to over one year’s wait

AGED-CARE queues have blown out to more than a year's wait for almost 100,000 elderly Australians and some risk dying before getting home help.

People too frail to feed or wash themselves are being forced to wait at least 12 months for care in their own home, despite getting the green light from government assessors for taxpayer-funded care.

But one Far North residential care operator says the Far North is doing better than the national picture, with many ­facilities having vacancies.

New government data reveals that 95,831 Australians approved for a taxpayer-funded "home care package'' (HCP) will need to wait at least 12 months for the service.

Wait times have blown out to more than a year for 97 per cent of elderly Australians.

Just 3437 people can expect assistance within three to six months - and only because they have "basic care needs'' that are cheaper to fund.

At the end of October, 99,268 Australians were in the queue for aged care after medical assessors deemed them to be in need of help to stay in their own homes.

Pyramid Residential Care Centre chairman Paul Gregory the demand for beds varied "from facility to facility".

"I believe there are facilities around that have lots of vacancies," Mr Gregory said.

"Pyramid has a waiting list; we are full at the moment.

"I know there are facilities that are nowhere near full."

Pyramid Residential Care Centre chairman Paul Gregory at the Gordonvale aged care home. Picture: Stewart McLean
Pyramid Residential Care Centre chairman Paul Gregory at the Gordonvale aged care home. Picture: Stewart McLean

 

He said much of the delay was likely to come from drawn-out processes in assessing potential residents if they presented at hospital, and often family were reluctant to farewell their loved ones.

"People on the waiting lists are contacted every time there is a vacancy, but when contacted they are often not ready to come in," Mr Gregory said.

"The metropolitan centres have large waiting lists, which is why the government is investing so much into home care programs."

He said the industry faced challenges including staffing and pay rates. "It is extremely hard to fill positions for clinical staff in aged care - it is difficult work, physically and emotionally," Mr Gregory said.

Council on the Ageing chief executive Ian Yates warned that some Australians could die on the waiting list.

Mr Yates said no one approved for care should have to wait more than two months to receive assistance.

"In modern Australia, it is totally unacceptable that anyone should have to wait a year for a package after the government has assessed it's needed,'' Mr Yates said.

"Very often these people need assistance with personal care, showering and dressing. People don't eat properly, and they don't get access to showers as often as they should.''

A federal Health Department spokesman said that 10,000 more home care packages had been funded last month, at a cost of $850m, on top of 23,000 packages costing $1.6bn in the October budget.

"These significant investments reflect the government's ongoing commitment to support senior Australians to live in their own homes, reducing wait times for HCPs and connecting those in need to essential care sooner,'' he said.

"Around 99 per cent of senior Australians waiting for a HCP at their assessed level also have been offered support from the government, including an interim HCP or through the Commonwealth Home Support Program and they continue to have access to Australia's world-class healthcare system.''

 

Originally published as 'Difficult work': Aged-care queues blow out to over one year's wait



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