'Aged care lottery' forces older NSW residents to wait

OLDER Australians are going without proper assistance for months on end because there are not enough aged care spaces to go around.

An alliance of 48 aged care groups across Australia has called on all political parties to end the "aged care lottery" that saw 41% of older New South Wales residents waiting more than three months for residential care in 2014-15.

It was an increase from 28% in 2011-12, according to Productivity Commission figures.

The Australians Deserve to Age Well campaigners said more than 41% of people waited longer than three months for a home care package, up from 33% two years earlier.

And 28% of those needing high-level aged care had to wait more than three months.

Council on the Ageing chief executive officer Ian Yates said the system was a failure for all Australians.

"It is true there have been some steps in the right direction in aged care in recent years," he said.

"But the fact that waiting lists are blowing out in NSW and across Australia shows more needs to be done.

"We are calling on all political parties in the 2016 Federal Election to commit to a timetable to end the aged care lottery."

Aged and Community Services Australia president Paul Sadler said the system was not based on demand but an arbitrary number of available places per 1000 people over 70.

"There is a cap on delivery of services, no matter how urgently people need them," he said.

"If you are 82 years old and assessed as needing a high level of care, it's unfathomable that the system makes our most vulnerable in NSW wait 69 days or more for it."

Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation federal secretary Lee Thomas added her voice to the alliance.

"Every day that an older person has to wait for care is a day that they have to make do without," she said.

"This puts a massive strain on spouses and adult children and grandchildren - all because we don't have a system that matches demand.

"All political parties need to step up and provide some assurance to older Australians that they do count this election."

According to 2012-13 data, about 550 acute hospital beds were taken up each day in NSW by people ready to be discharged who could not find aged care placement. -ARM NEWSDESK

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