I rise today to discuss the disgraceful wait times this government is inflicting on older Australians trying to access home care. There are almost 120,000 older Australians on the waitlist for adequate in-home care. Today I want to talk about the story of just one person out of the thousands who are waiting. Earlier this year a Jagajaga resident reached out to tell me about her mother who’s lived in the area for decades and played a very active part in our local community.
Her mother has Alzheimer’s disease. She’s finding it increasingly difficult to manage daily tasks with the rapid deterioration in her memory and organisation skills, and her safety is increasingly at risk. It’s the advice of her doctor and her wish to stay in her home for as long as she can. In March she was assessed for a level 3 home-care package. She’s now been waiting nine months for her package and, by the time she receives it, it may be too late.
Unfortunately, this story is far from being an unusual case. In the year to June 2018, 16,000 Australians died before they got their home-care package. We know the best outcome for many of our older Australians is to stay in their home for as long as possible. Home care is economically sustainable and stops people entering residential care prematurely, yet this government’s cuts to aged care mean that, instead of these benefits, people are losing their independence.
The government received the interim report of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety a month ago. Today we finally saw a sliver of a response, but nothing like what we need.