Consumers and community care providers have increasingly voiced their concerns to the government this month, stating the need for clearer information and greater support to help people apply for and accept home care packages.

While the Department of Health revealed that last month 22,000 home care packages had been allocated since the change to a newer system back in February, community care providers have stated that there has been a substantial drop in new clients coming through the system.

In regard to home care, Sydney isn’t short of options, but the fact remains that many new consumers are having trouble accessing home care packages.

Timeframe is too long

Many have suggested that this may be due to what some believe to be an unnecessarily long time period for which a person can accept their home care package.

The current time period allocated for a consumer to accept a home care package is 56 days.

However, this can sometimes be extended for an additional 28 days.

Chief executive of Aged and Community Services Australia, Pat Sparrow, said that these lengthy time periods slow down the allocation process and stop other potential consumers from accessing a home care package when they require it within a short period of time:

“It’s important that people have time to consider their options but we also need to ensure packages get to the people who need them, more quickly than they are at the moment. I think that’s having an impact on the allocation process,” she said.

But Ageing Australia chief Ian Yates believes there is currently not enough evidence to support this claim:

“Very early feedback does not indicate it’s a major issue. There were quite different views about this when it was agreed.

“It may be that we need a mechanism for consumers to ‘park’ their entitlement to a package, leaving it in the priority line but ‘inactive’ – for a maximum period – and then be able to activate it when they are ready.”

Lack of information

Others have claimed the lack of new consumers taking up home care packages is due to a lack of clear information on how to apply and access them.

Mr Yates has said he has been putting pressure on the government to implement a simpler and more comprehensive guide to accessing home care packages for years:

“It’s a baffling fact that government has not launched a campaign that has been in the wings for ages,” he said.

“That said, there are a range of brochures and flyers provided direct to consumers which are helpful.

“The letters have been confusing to some consumers and we understand they are being revised.”

In relation to this, chief executive of Aged and Community Services Australia Pat Sparrow has backed Mr Yates’s views, stating a need for to ensure consumers well informed:

“NACA has been doing some work on a consumer support platform and it will be good for the government to consider that and how it can strengthen that area,” he said.

“My Aged Care in and of itself isn’t going to do all those things and we need to look at how we can strengthen it.”