The royal commission into aged care must consider improved access to community aged care packages with as many as 7000 Tasmanians waiting for support, advocates say.
Carers Tasmania and Council on the Ageing Tasmania both welcomed the royal commission but highlighted the shortage of aged care packages in the state.
Carers Tasmania chief executive David Brennan said higher demand was being placed on aged care facilities because unpaid family carers were not able to continue caring without support packages.
Mr Brennan said nationally, it was estimated that 110,000 older Australians have been assessed for a package, “but can’t receive it and are on a long waiting list.”
“In Tasmania, this number is believed to be 7,000,” he said.
“There are two challenges in the system for these families. One is having the budget to fund the approved packages. The other is service availability when the funding finally comes through.
“Sadly, many have to make the painful decision to move their husband or wife or parent into residential care sooner than is needed.”
Carers Tasmania member, Helen Ackerly from George Town, has been on a waiting list for funding.
“My husband Wayne has now had to be placed in nursing home care as his physical ability has decreased and is too dangerous for me to be able to care for him at home,” Mrs Ackerly said.
“As you can imagine this has been devastatingly hard on both of us, but unfortunately we had to face reality and make this placement. The packages for level 4 are almost impossible to access.”
Mr Brennan said informal care from unpaid family carers contributed $60.3 billion to the Australian economy every year.
“Surely, the 7,000 needing support in Tasmania are worth the injection of funds and it shouldn’t take a royal commission to see what needs to be done,” he said.
COTA chief executive Sue Leitch agreed that Tasmanians were waiting too long for packages.
“There is a shortage of packages and the wait is too long,” Ms Leitch said.
“We welcome the Royal Commission but want to ensure that work already being done continues and recommendations from other inquiries is ongoing.”
Labor assistant minister for ageing Senator Helen Polley said there were already “a mounting pile of inquiries, reviews and reports into problems in the aged care sector which the Government has not acted on.”
“If the new Prime Minister is serious about aged care he would address the home care package wait list crisis - which currently has over 108,000 people waiting in limbo for care,” she said.