Recent research commissioned by Benetas in collaboration with Monash University, School of Public Health and Preventative Medicine, has identified that older Australians have significant low confidence when it comes to using their Home Care Packages.
The study published by the Australasian Journal on Ageing revealed that older people who have access to essential health and wellbeing services through the Australian Government’s Home Care Package program find it largely confusing and unclear, compromising their willingness to draw on the available supports.
Monash University Adjunct Associate Professor and Benetas General Manager of Quality, Outcomes and Research, Dr Catherine Joyce, said that rectifying consumer confidence is imperative if older Australians are to proactively use the Home Care services made available to them in their later stages of life.
“In many ways the findings are not surprising. The Government subsidised Home Care Package system is incredibly complex and getting clear information during the lengthy application and allocation process is not easy.
“This is affecting many in our community. At 43 per cent, there are approximately one in two older Australians who had been allocated Home Care Packages who aren’t accessing the available services.
“This is resulting in an estimated $1 billion in unspent Home Care funds in March this year.
“That is $1 billion that the Government had allocated to older Australians to improve their quality of life and health in the community that simply wasn’t used.”
“While the study found that patterns of behaviour meant there would always be some level of unspent funds, this figure is drastically too high and indicates a significant need to focus on building consumer confidence.”
The research comes as the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety heard this month that 19 per cent of Australians aged over 80 are moved out of their home and into residential aged care – the highest proportion in the developed world.
Dr Joyce said, “We know that older Australians’ preference is to stay at home. We also know that people accessing proactive health care and supports in the community is paramount to enabling this.
“Fundamentally, investing in Australia’s Home Care Package system isn’t a nice have, it’s essential.
“Alongside the need to drastically increase the number of Home Care Packages, the Australian Government needs to ensure that navigation and communication with consumers during the application and allocation process is as streamlined and as user-friendly as possible.
“With Former Treasurer Peter Costello highlighting how confusing and complicated the aged care system can be, it’s important that we draw from these learnings and work to make it as clear as we can.
“Providers like Benetas are working hard from a service perspective, but the Australian Government also needs to play its part given the instrumental role it plays to allocating and facilitating Home Care Packages.”