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Realistic Home Care Wait Times - May Newsletter


I spend a lot of my working days educating ageing Australians about realistic wait times for accessing services within the home. Whilst knowing what services are available and how to access them is a fantastic start, knowing when to ‘pull the trigger’ and request support is the next step.


I’ve seen countless instances of people leaving things a little too late. They may still be able to access support, but often it’s not enough care to meet their increasing needs or it comes too late. Ultimately, this often leads to a health event and sees people move into residential care facilities sooner than they would have liked to.


For this reason, the theme I’ve chosen for May is

Realistic Home Care Wait Times.


 

The Home Care Packages Program Data Report for 1 October - 31 December 2023 was released in April and detailed the current statistics for accessing home care services.


As of 31 December 2023 there were 269,573 people accessing services through a Home Care Package (HCP), a 14% increase since 31 December 2022. During the 1 October - 31 December quarter, there were 32,692 HCPs released, which is an average of 2,515 per week.  

Importantly, as of 31 December 2023 there were 51,044 people in the National Priority System (NPS) aka. ‘the queue’. This is a 35% increase since 31 December 2022. It is worth noting that of these 51,044, 11,822 were on an interim HCP (e.g. a lower level package than their highest approval) and 38,744 were not on an interim HCP.


The estimated wait time for people entering the NPS on 31 March 2024 were:

  • Level 1: less than 1 month

  • Level 2: 3-6 months

  • Level 3: 9-12 months

  • Level 4: 6-9 months


What I find most people underestimate is that on top of these ‘wait times’ for your HCP, you have additional wait times before and after.


Let’s say you contact My Aged Care today and request an assessment… My Aged Care will complete a screening over the phone and if eligible, your request will be forwarded to a local Aged Care Assessment Team/Service (ACAT/ACAS). These teams typically take 2-6 weeks* to respond to referrals and will then book your assessment another 4-8* weeks ahead of that. So you’ve already waited 6-14 weeks to be assessed…


Let’s assume you have high needs and have been deemed eligible for a Level 4. You now have an additional 6-9 months to wait for your package to be available.


Once your package is available you have 56 days to enter into a Home Care Agreement with your chosen provider. Most commonly people will consider their options for at least 2-3 weeks before contacting providers. Providers then usually have a 2-3 week wait period before they have availability to visit you to sign up for services.


Once the agreement is signed and you’ve agreed on services, they will typically start within 5 business days of signing the agreement.


You’ve now waited 6-14 weeks for assessment, 24-36 weeks for a package, 4-6 weeks to sign an agreement and an additional week for services to start.


Making it an estimated total of 9 to 14 months between contacting My Aged Care and accessing services for a Level 4 Home Care Package.


REALISTIC HOME CARE PACKAGE WAITS

Level 1 - 4 to 6 months

Level 2 - 6 to 11 months

Level 3 - 12 to 17 months

Level 4 - 9 to 14 months


It is worth noting that in cases of incredibly high need, HCP’s can be prioritised as ‘high priority’ and will be processed much faster.


*I want to highlight that there are very few published statistics surrounding ACAT/ACAS wait times, so these are mainly estimates recorded by third-party sites. In my opinion, this is an area that desperately needs clearer reporting. Whilst My Aged Care can report ‘wait times’ in the NPS, this does not accurately identify the lengthy waits consumers face when it comes to receiving care in their home.


I would also argue that I’ve been quite generous in the figures provided. Anecdotally the waits are far higher. Personally, I requested an ACAT for someone in the Fleurieu region on 19th February 2024 and it is yet to be booked for assessment. When I followed up in March, they advised they were still actioning referrals sent in September…


I also want to acknowledge that this is no slight on the ACAT teams themselves. I have no doubt they’re working as hard and fast as they can to get through the influx of referrals they must receive. I do, however, feel strongly that vulnerable older persons in need of aged care services, should not have to wait over 6 months to even reach the point of assessment.


All of this is to say…

Start sooner than you think you need to.


I highly recommend clients request assessment for a Home Care Package as soon as they are eligible. Not only are the wait times much shorter for a Level 1 or Level 2 HCP, but once you’re in the system you can expedite 5-9 weeks of finding a provider if you’re requesting an upgrade, rather than starting a fresh.


If you’re unsure if you or a loved one are eligible, please feel free to give me a call or contact My Aged Care and enquire. It’s much better to explore these options prematurely than leave it until it’s too late.


 

My podcast, ‘The Truth About Ageing’ is actually on hiatus at present. June 2024 will mark 3 years of me producing the podcast and every now and then I need a little breather to re-energise. You can still access the full back-catalogue of episodes through your favourite podcast app (Apple Podcasts, Spotify) or at www.navigateagedcare.com.au/podcast


I’ll also be posting regular updates on socials, which you can find at:

Facebook - @navigateagedcareau

Instagram - @thetruthaboutageing


Thank you again for being part of the Navigate gang. Please feel free to pass this email on to a friend of family member - the more the merrier!


Have a beautiful May and I’ll be in your inbox again on the 2nd of June!


Big love,

Kate.


If you’d like to chat about your unique situation and gain a better understanding of options available to you, please book a free 15 minute consult via the ‘Book Now’ button below.




P.s. if you're a newsletter subscriber, the photo of Cece will seem a bit less random... Essentially, I hope you're all feeling as happy as Cece at the markets last week.

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