The report from Consumer Policy Research Centre (CPRC) draws on research undertaken in partnership with University of South Australia (UniSA) which surveyed 502 Home Care Package (HCP) recipients across metropolitan Australia in June and July last year.
“Older Australians are being abandoned by the system, often unable to access the necessary support to live happier, healthier lives at home,” said CPRC CEO, Lauren Solomon.
Home Care Packages (HCPs) are meant to be providing older Australians with assistance cleaning, gardening, transporting and nursing so they can stay comfortably in their own homes for longer, however new research finds complexity and opacity a major barrier to many older people obtaining support.
60% of older people surveyed required assistance to identify and choose a HCP provider. This hidden burden most commonly fell to already busy healthcare professionals (40%) or family and friends (35%).
“What we have here is a system that has not been built for the people trying to access it. That burden is simply being shifted to family, friends and healthcare professionals as people try to navigate this bewildering and broken system.” Ms Solomon said.
“For those older people without adequate family or healthcare support, it’s unclear whether they would even be aware of the available Home Care Package support, let alone be able to access the system.”
While lack of supply of HCPs is clearly a big problem highlighted by the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety (ACRC), Ms Solomon warned that pouring more packages into a broken system alone will not improve outcomes.
“We need to fix the way older people and their carers are accessing the system. It needs to be easier, fairer and a lot more transparent.”
CPRC recommends the following changes:
CPRC also agrees with the ACRC Interim Report that the My Aged Care website is not delivering the Productivity Commission’s original vision. The vision of older Australians seamlessly navigating the aged care system supported by a person-centred navigator. There is still no substitute for local knowledge and face-to-face interactions.
“We must design markets with people at the centre. Too often, older people and their experience of the market is just an afterthought.” said Ms Solomon.
Other key research findings include:
Reliance on carers and healthcare professionals to enter and navigate the HCP system
Confusion about plans, fees and packages
Lack of transparency
Information provided in complex ways through channels older people do not use
The ACRC Interim Report was released on 31 October 2019 with recommendations being formulated for the final report over the coming months.