Home and Community Care (HACC) programs could see substantial changes by 2018, as a funding reduction appears to be imminent.
The coming changes from the 2014 federal budget have brought both approval and concern from the aged care provider sector, prompting detailed discussions into the effects – particularly with regards to the impacts the changes could have on elderly Australians.
On May 13, the government announced the annual growth rate in funding for the Commonwealth Home Support Program would be cut from 6 per cent down to 3.5 per cent.
While this change is happening in July 2018 in order to see savings over the following six years, the impacts are seen as undesirable.
Presently, HACC is funded jointly by the Australian government and state/territory governments. Funding in this sector supports many of the same services as facilities, but localised to the home.
COTA Australia chief executive Ian Yates expressed his concerns over the changes to Australian Ageing Agenda, explaining that the current 6 per cent was already putting pressure on a majority of home support services for the elderly.
He went on to explain that HACC is an area that shouldn't see too much rationing, given it's the "front line". This is correct, as a strong HACC network can alleviate pressure on aged care facilities.
This funding change will likely mean aged care facilities see an increase in populations, with a possible surge around the July 18 date. Moving to a residential facility is often a better choice for many elderly Australians, due to the higher level of care available around the clock.
If changes aren't actioned before the HACC adjustments go ahead, aged care facilities could face difficulties as resident numbers swell exponentially.