Tasmanian home care package providers are being forced to turn away elderly people - some in desperate need of assistance - weekly, with those living in regional areas particularly affected.
The immense demand for federally-funded Home Care Packages continues to outstrip supply as thousands of elderly Tasmanians already approved for a HCP wait for more than a year to receive their help.
Some may die 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 live in unkept homes.
Anglicare Tasmania is one of up to 60 HCP providers in Tasmania and is working with 250 Tasmanians.
Its chief executive Chris Jones said 35 of its clients are not receiving support at their assessed level, and a further 130 clients are receiving just a basic level of care when a higher level was needed.
"We are turning potential new clients away several times a week due to a lack of available funding," Dr Jones said.
"The lack of adequate Home Care Packages means many people are forced to enter residential care when they could actually have been supported to remain safely living in their own home," he said.
"In addition, people in rural and remote areas often have even less choice due to the limited availability of services in more isolated areas."
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. 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.
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 more than 400 Tasmanians were in the high-care queue, whilst a further 1200 individuals fell into the second-highest priority category.
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.
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