Interview on 5AA Adelaide, Mornings with Leon Byner

Transcript of the Minister for Aged Care and Minister for Indigenous Health, Ken Wyatt's interview on 5AA Adelaide, Mornings with Leon Byner

Page last updated: 15 September 2017

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15 September 2017

Leon Byner: Isn’t it interesting how many of the subjects we talk about actually have a connect the dots capacity to them? And that is, for this one, we need to keep people out of hospital and if indeed they go to hospital, they’ve got to leave hospital, come home and they need help. Or maybe they’re not serious enough to be hospitalised but they need intensive help. And this has been a problem. We’ve had these home care packages, of which there are four categories, and a lot of people are getting them, but the category of care is very low when what they really need is category four. And the thing is, people have to contact an agency, they need an evaluation and then they have to wait. And this is where we’ve had a problem.

And we did contact the Minister, and so I’m pleased to tell you that the Turnbull Government has announced major initiatives in home care services, improved access they say to My Aged Care system, and what they’re saying is an additional 6000 home care packages will be made available to support more older Australians with higher care needs to remain living in the comfort of their own homes. Now, let’s talk to the Federal Ageing Minister, Ken Wyatt.

Ken, good morning and thanks for joining us.

Ken Wyatt: Good morning, Leon.

Leon Byner: So which category of these 6000 are we talking - just a small percentage, half, two-thirds?

Ken Wyatt: We’re talking about a [indistinct] number than what was anticipated, and so hence the creation of the 6000 additional places so that we can deal with people who are waiting for a package, and these are levels threes and fours so they’re important. And when you raised those issues with us as well for Adelaide, we’ve been going through all these Adelaide ones and looking at those in closer detail. So I want to make sure that we get the best possible journey from certainly hospital care into transitional restorative care places so that people are able to spend time recovering, and I’d rather see people go back home and live independently but with the level of support that’s needed. And some people are opting for Commonwealth Home Support Programs because they don’t want the packages yet. So we’ve a mix in the options that are available for people and I’m certainly talking with people, and this morning I’ve just had a round table with advocates of older Australians, and they’ve raised a number of issues in respect to how we can streamline and focus on how we provide those social, emotional and physical care to people wanting to remain at home, so that’s what I need to consider also in that context.

Leon Byner: Alright. I’ll cut to the chase on this and that is that for South Australia, if you are in a situation where – and there’ll be two categories here – there’ll be people who are needing three or four, in terms of the intensive help they need; the one is much lighter. So it’s good that they’re there though, but a lot of people are on plans which really are nowhere near what they should be. That’s point one. So what do they do? And what do the other people do who haven’t got a plan but need three or four and have been waiting? What do they do?

Ken Wyatt: Well, the normal step that people go through is they have an ACAT assessment. They’re assessed at a certain level and then that is the recommendation that then triggers a course of action to send out a letter notifying people that they’ve been assessed at that level, and the second letter then says your package is available and you need to follow through with some steps. Now, people have up to three months to make the decision as to how they access those packages and what their decision is in terms of services they want to provide those- sorry, to provide those services for them and where they want them. So …

Leon Byner: So how big’s the waiting list right now, do you know, for SA?

Ken Wyatt: So at the moment, across the nation it’s 12 months plus but by jurisdictions they vary because in some areas the ACAT assessors, and in particular WA and ACT, ACAT assessors, their period of waiting is much shorter. In some parts of Australia, there are people who are waiting nine months for an ACAT assessment. And I’ve just had the department drill down into every ACAT assessment region to look at what the waiting times are, but also to look at what the proportion of people needing level four packages, threes, twos and ones.

Leon Byner: Alright.

Ken Wyatt: So that’s now informed me in terms of the new directions that we’ll be considering.

Leon Byner:: Alright. So people today who are in need of categories three or four and are told to wait, is there anything they could or should do, or do they just have to wait for someone to contact them? How does this work?

Ken Wyatt: No, look Leon, you can contact the 1800 number that’s within the My Aged Care website and have a discussion because we’ve got 400 people who work in that centre who provide advice, and people that have contacted my office we’ve certainly followed through. You were given the number previously of 212, at that point we’ve cleared 181 people off that waiting list and some of these are an artefact of the period that- where before 27 February, the waiting list was only known to the aged care providers. Now, the Commonwealth is getting a clearer picture of the extent of that waiting list, the number of people on it by its jurisdictions, and on that basis I was able to make the decision to look for resources to create the 6000 additional places for level threes and fours.

Leon Byner: Alright, so when I see Dr Rod Pearce from Medical HQ, what should I tell him?

Ken Wyatt: Well, actually you and I will be at a forum in two weeks’ time.

Leon Byner: Yes we will. Yes.

Ken Wyatt: I’m coming over to Adelaide on 25 September so will he be there?

Leon Byner: Yes he will. I’ll make sure he is. So you keep us well up to date with where and when and don’t worry, I’ll be there and he will be there. Because all we want to do, Minister, is make sure that people don’t have to end up in hospital or nursing homes, who if otherwise helped out can stay at home and enjoy their own property and enjoy their own family and the things they’re used to. So I’m glad you’ve provided more packages and I thank you for doing it. Could you keep us in the loop and we will make sure- I know you’re coming into the program as well, and we’ll be very, very interested just to find out exactly what’s going on, because I don’t like getting reports that people have been evaluated for a certain level of care and they can’t get it. So Minister, thank you for joining us today.

Ken Wyatt: Leon, I’m looking forward to being in Adelaide with you and certainly my focus is on making sure that our senior Australians get services they need.

Leon Byner: Good on you. That’s Ken Wyatt, the Aging Minister. Now can I tell you, here’s a tip, had you not contacted us – because we were inundated about this – we couldn’t have got this outcome. Now, don’t worry, I’m going to follow and make sure what happens now, but that’s 6000 across Australia, but I just want to make sure that those in need are not left high and dry waiting at the end of a phone.

ENDS

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