By June 2023, 40,000 more packages will be available to allow older Australians access to affordable care services and remain at home for longer.
While the release of the next round of Home Care Packages will allow more older Australians to access services and supports at home, there is some concern that the ongoing workforce shortages may impact this rollout.
Ian Henschke, National Seniors Chief Advocate, said the organisation has welcomed the additional packages, but there is still a shortage of workers willing to go into the sector, meaning there would be no one to do the work required to care for older people at home.
The Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) released research that estimated the sector was losing 65,000 direct aged care workers per year.
Mr Henschke said the Federal Government’s priority should be on facilitating paid traineeships, particularly for older people who still wish to work, to combat workforce shortages.
“The Government has to do more and put a bigger emphasis on training and paid traineeships,” Ms Henschke said.
“We [National Seniors] recommend a national mature age traineeship program to attract quality mature age home care workers.
“Most people over 65 still wish to work about two-to-three days because of the rising cost of living and are likely to have more empathy if they have had to care for their own parents.”
The Federal Government introduced changes to the Age Pension at this month’s Jobs and Skills Summit to allow pensioners to earn an additional $4,000 for this financial year without losing their pension.
This decision was welcomed by National Seniors, but Mr Henschke said it was not going to be implemented long enough to see any benefits.
“How do we get the workers [for home care services] and the training?” he said.
“This is a systemic problem that requires a systemic solution.”
Older people need to get assessed
Even with ongoing staffing issues in the aged care sector, older Australians should be preparing early and getting assessed so they can access the soon-to-be-released Home Care Packages.
Simon Lockyer, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of national home care provider, Five Good Friends, said the release of these new 40,000 HCPs should be considered by every older Australian who needs help to live independently at home.
He recommends older people to undergo an assessment and put in a Home Care Package submission as soon as possible.
“Research proves, for every hour of home care service a person receives, it reduces the risk of entry into residential care by 6%,” Mr Lockyer said.
“Depending on which service you’re suited to and where you live it can take up to 12 weeks to have your aged care needs assessed.
“It currently can take up to six months to establish eligibility and which Home Care Package funding is available to you, and we expect these wait times to lengthen as demand grows.”
For more information on Home Care Packages, visit the My Aged Care website.