Immense demand for elderly home-care assistance packages will continue to outstrip supply unless more is done to increase the size of the aged-care workforce, according to the peak advocacy body for older Tasmanians.
Thousands of elderly Tasmanians who are approved for the Federally funded home-care packages of between $9000 and $52,000 a year, have been left waiting for more than a year to receive their help in the home.
Some have died waiting, while those living in regional and rural Tasmania are finding it the most difficult to access help.
On a practical level this means people have gone without showers, struggled through meal preparations or lived in unkept homes, depending on what level of care was approved for individuals.
Council on the Ageing Tasmania chief executive Sue Leitch said more Federal investment in the number of HCP is needed, but alongside this sits a need for increased investment in the aged-care workforce.
She said no-one should wait longer than two months to receive the help they need.
"At the moment people are waiting over 12 months and it is just not acceptable, particularly for those high-level packages. It is creating stress on carers, it is affecting people's health and wellbeing, and it is not giving people access to what should be seen as basic human rights," Ms Leitch said.
"To be able to have a daily shower, enjoy their gardens, visit their friends or get to the shops, these are fundamental things that people should be able to access."
Unemployed could fill the gaps, ease waitlists
With many Tasmanians out of work or underemployed due to the COVID pandemic, Ms Leitch said, aged-care work could present an opportunity.
"We have employment issues across the country due to COVID, people that will potentially need to change the work they are doing because those jobs aren't available, and yet we have a shortage of aged care and disability workers," she said.
"There needs to be an increase in investment by the Commonwealth in the number of packages but they also need to invest in getting the workforce increased as well.
"In Tasmania it is certainly an area that people should consider if they are looking for work ...more focus and emphasis needs to be put onto aged care, that investment in the sector is a good option for people."
Government data shows that 99, 268 Australians waited for more than 12 months for their care, including more than 14,000 with high care needs, and 40,000 with intermediate care needs.
More than 400 Tasmanians were in the high-care queue, whilst a further 1200 individuals fell into the second-highest priority category.
Ms Leitch said older people living in the regional Tasmania were finding it especially difficult to find support.
More than 60 home-care providers in Tasmania, including 15 in the North and 13 in the North West, are tasked with supporting HCP approved applicants
They work with the elderly to discover what home care they would like to receive, and then organise for this to happen.