The Department of Health is reviewing the letters sent to consumers as part of the new home care system in light of research showing a significant proportion of older people are confused about how to access their package.
According to a department survey of 500 consumers who had not yet taken up their assigned package, 48 per cent said they needed more time than the current 56 days to select a provider and requested a 28-day extension.
Of the remaining consumers, 45 per cent told the department they did not understand what they needed to do next to activate their package. Consumers highlighted a range of reasons including indicating:
- they had not received the government letter (20 per cent)
- they didn’t understand the letter (20 per cent) or
- had not read it (5 per cent).
Others were still deciding if they wanted to access a home care package at this point in time.
Fiona Buffinton, first assistant secretary aged care access and quality, told a Senate estimates hearing on 30 May the department was adjusting its processes in response to better understanding consumer behaviour in the new client-driven home care market.
Specifically, the department was reviewing its communication to consumers to ensure its letters were clear and easy to understand, Ms Buffinton told the senate committee.
As previously reported by Community Care Review, the findings highlight how insufficient knowledge and navigation support are acting as barriers for some older people to take up an assigned package.
The National Aged Care Alliance has been calling for a consumer support platform to enhance the information and supports available to older people accessing aged care.
Department officials also revealed:
- at 26 May, the government has released 30,057 home care packages under the new system, of which 25 per cent (7,635) were new packages.
- 16 per cent of the 30,000 packages allocated were considered high priority packages,.
- overall, one third of packages were assigned to existing consumers as an upgrade from a lower level package.
The department confirmed to the hearing it would not be releasing data on waiting times for a package until the end of July.
Elsewhere, the department confirmed the aged care workforce strategy to be developed by the new industry taskforce would be an industry document and not “advice to government”.
The industry-led taskforce would also not include any ministerial or departmental members. However the department said it would support the taskforce to connect with other relevant government departments such as immigration and education.
In this month’s budget, the government provided $1.9 million over two years to establish and support an industry-led aged care workforce taskforce.