Illawarra MPs Sharon Bird and Stephen Jones have called on the federal Government to provide more support for aged care in the Southern Highlands and Illawarra.
In September last year Mr Jones wrote to the then responsible minister Senator Mitch Fifield about in-home aged care packages, warning that there were significant waiting periods for level three and four packages in the region.
Local aged care providers have advised that:
- They have “folders full” of people waiting but that it can “take years and years to get in” to a suitable aged care package. Waiting lists can stretch to as high as 30 to 40 people.
- In many cases a new place only becomes available when someone else passes away.
News that this year’s Aged Care Approvals Round (ACAR) delivered 152 new residential aged care places and 87 new in-home aged care packages for the region is welcome.
But Sharon Bird has today said that much more needs to be done to match growing demand.
“Right now we have people accepting aged care packages below the level they have been assessed as needing just to get some form of in-home care. This isn’t good enough and it has to change.
“The latest ACAR announcement is a step in the right direction but we are still a long way short and older people in the region deserve better.”
Mr Jones said that long-term neglect of aged care in recent years has led to the problems now faced by local people in need of care.
“Unfortunately, the Liberal Government has not been willing or able to respond to obvious gaps in supply of home care packages, so the latest announcement is all about playing catch-up.
“Labor understands investment in aged care can’t be put in the too-hard basket. We have a proud record of delivering the Living Longer, Living Better reforms and looking after some of the country’s most vulnerable people.
“We need more level three and four aged care packages and we need them now.
“Families are tearing their hair out trying to locate an aged care place. They shouldn’t have to experience this level of stress and uncertainty trying to get support and I will continue fighting for them.”