The Department of Health has disclosed the breakdown of home care packages released last month as it moves towards increased transparency for home care providers.
During March 2017, the Department released over 14,000 packages. The majority (approx. 9,400) were level 2, followed by level 4 (approx. 2,400), level 3 (approx. 1300) and level 1 (approx. 900).
Of these, approximately 10,700 packages have been assigned to new consumers accessing home care for the first time.
Approximately 3,300 packages were assigned as upgrades to consumers already receiving an interim level of home care.
A spokesperson for the Department said the number of packages released in March 2017 takes into account home care places that were unoccupied on 27 February 2017, packages that have been exited and new packages.
The Minister for Aged Care, Ken Wyatt AM, said he is aware there is more demand for the higher level packages and that consistency in the ACAT process is critical to ensuring a fair and prompt allocation process.
“There is a demand for the higher levels and that’s certainly something that we will look at, based on what we see as patterns over a period of time and the projected population ageing. The Department continually assesses the level that we need,” he told Inside Ageing last week.
“But sometimes you’ll get an increased demand for, say, level 3 packages, so we’ve got to consider that in the context of the people needing them.”
Mr Wyatt also said that in changing the allocation process to a national register based on a person’s relative need and circumstances, and the date they were approved for care, should not disadvantage providers in one state over another.
“If we are doing assessments consistently across the nation, then no one should be disadvantaged,” he said.
“Because once the ACAT assessment is done, the national registration means that there is an allocation automatically to the person who has been assessed.”
“So if people are being assessed on the basis of need, then that should not see the maldistribution of places across the nation.”
“Given population sizes, yes – you’re going to see a skewing where there are larger populations, but it will be on the basis of need,” he said.
“WA has continually had its allocation based on a ratio, and that ratio now means that if we are assessing people on need, on a national register, then we need to make sure in each jurisdiction the ACAT assessments are fairly prompt and that the provision of that information through to the central allocation point, is as short a time as possible.”
While the Department has not released information about how long people are typically waiting from the time they are assessed to when they are assigned a package, it will provide more information from later in the year through My Aged Care.
“Future package releases will continue to reflect the current distribution of packages between levels, as determined by the Aged Care Provision Ratio,” the spokesperson said.
“Home care packages are now being released on a regular basis through the new national prioritisation system.”
“The Department expects to release more detailed public reports in the second half of 2017 when data will more accurately reflect supply and demand for packages,” she said.
“Once sufficient data is available, public reporting will be made available on measures of demand for home care packages and the supply of home care packages through the national system.”
“The information will be made available through the Department’s Annual Report and Portfolio Budget Statements, the Report on the Operation of the Aged Care Act 1997, and the Aged Care Financing Authority’s (ACFA) Annual Report on the Funding and Financing of the Aged Care Sector.
Additional external reporting on the new national home care packages system will be made available through My Aged Care.