Jan 09, 2019

Home Care Industry needs Quality Just As Much As Quantity

Timing is everything when it comes to media.

Last years announcement of the Royal Commission into aged care was conveniently announced just one day before 4 Corners horrific and eye-opening exposé into the neglect and abuse within Australian aged care facilities.

While yesterday, Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care, Ken Wyatt, authorised a statement announcing a roll-out of 10,000 additional home care packages on the very same day that the ABC’s 7.30 report did a story into the inadequacy within Australia’s home care industry.

This means that not only are the issues that the ABC are bringing to light causing a stir but that the key figures within the aged care sector are actually listening and being held accountable.

Last nights 7.30 program highlighted a number of issues that the home care industry is currently facing, including astronomical waiting times of up to 18 months, that some elderly people are being forced endure before gaining access to a home care package.

This lack of supply to meet the home care service demands of elderly Australians is having a detrimental effect on their overall health and wellbeing, with many Australians literally dying before they had a chance to utilise the services that they needed.

Given the amount of demand for home care services, it’s no surprise that the number of service providers has exploded over the last few years.

Unfortunately, a very small percentage of providers seem to have the ability or the intent to treat supplying these critical human services with the level of care and safety that should be required.

Some home care providers have been accused of employing aggressive techniques to sign up clients and there are others that have been accused of price gouging and inflating the costs of their services.

These shortcomings have even resulted in a small number of home care service providers being sanctioned.

Ken Wyatt’s Roll Out

Yesterday a media release from Ken Wyatt announced a rollout of an additional 10,000 new high-level home care packages and highlighted the economics behind the current situation as a positive indication of the way things were moving.

“The rollout of an additional 10,000 new high-level home care packages begins this week, helping more senior Australians to remain living independently in their own homes.

“The home care expansion is part of the Liberal National Government’s half-billion dollar ($552.9 million) aged care funding increase, announced in December 2018.

“All of the additional 5,000 Level Three and 5,000 Level Four packages will be allocated by 30 June 2019, providing funding for up to $50,000 of care services per person per year including nursing, home assistance, nutrition, and meal preparation and transport support.

“Along with the extra 20,000 packages funded in the past year, this will see a 40 percent increase in people receiving home care packages.

“Our Government is also keeping more money in the pockets of 70,000 senior Australians, by reducing the maximum contribution they can be asked to make through the basic daily fee by up to $400 per year for Level One packages, $200 a year for Level Two packages and $100 a year for Level Three packages.

“These savings are part of our Government’s unprecedented aged care reforms to help ensure senior Australians receive the care they want and deserve, where and when they need it.

“We have invested an extra $1 billion a year in aged care services since 2013 and will continue our record investment through the 2018/19 Budget’s $5 billion aged care boost over the next four years.

“Thanks to our Government’s strong economic management, we are able to increase funding for the essential services such as aged care that Australians rely on, without higher taxes.”

Non Believers

In response to Mr. Wyatts press release, Shadow Minister For Ageing and Mental Health, Julie Collins MP, believes that governments package is nowhere near sufficient for the current home care problems that elderly Australians are facing.

“There are more than 126,000 older Australians stuck on a waiting list for a home care package – the Government’s announcement is a drop in the ocean,” said Julie.

Ms. Collins believes that government is facing a home care crisis and has failed to fix issues despite claiming that the problem was already solved in the budget last May.

“The Government said it solved this problem in the May Budget – these new packages are a concession that it hasn’t fixed the crisis created under its watch.”

“Many older Australians have been languishing on the waitlist for their approved home care for a year or more while the Liberals ignored the problem.”

“The Government did nothing when the waitlist for home care packages hit 108,000 in August. They did nothing when the list reached 121,000 in September.”

“For more than 18 months Labor has repeatedly raised concerns about the explosive growth in the number of older Australians waiting for home care the Government’s woeful response to this issue,” she said.

A Quick Fix?

While the biggest issue currently plaguing the home care industry is the fallout due to the waiting list periods, accusations of price gouging and substandard home care service providers indicate that not all help is necessarily good help.

“We have also raised concerns about the lack of oversight of home care providers and are deeply concerned about recent reports of poor quality care,” said Julie.

“There must be better registration and accreditation of home care providers –  which Labor has previously called for – so older Australians and their loved ones can be confident they are receiving the best quality care.”

Regardless of what side of the political fence a person wants to stand on, anyone who is serious about the welfare of elderly people should be in favour of stringent registration processes and thorough accreditation.

Because if improving waiting list times is not a problem that is quickly fixed, we should at least be sure that the care that elderly people are getting is coming from those who have their best interests at heart.

photo courtesy of www.istockphoto.com

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