Older Canberrans on the waiting list for a home care package could find themselves ejected from social groups and communities once they get one, because of a technicality with the transition from interim assistance.
As of March 31, 2019, there were 1690 people living in the ACT who were waiting for a home care package at their approved level. Of these, 1609 people, or more than 95 per cent, had approval for Commonwealth Home Support Program assistance.
Presumably, many of these would have taken advantage of social groups as a part of the service, not realising that access to the groups would not be subsidised once they received a home care package.
The expected wait time for a level one home care package is between three and six months, while the wait time for levels two, three and four is 12 months or more - meaning older people might be reliant on the groups by the time they receive a package.
Charlotte Scouller has been attending three Dementia Australia activities a week for two years through Commonwealth home assistance, and was only recently told she would become "ineligible" to keep attending them once she received her home care package.
She was approved for a level three package in July and is looking at a 12-month wait.
"[Mum has] gotten to know the ladies that she goes to the ladies group with, and the people in the other activities over the past two years," Mrs Scouller's daughter, Rebecca Scouller said.
"She trusts the people who run the activities.
"Of all illnesses, to take someone with dementia and rip them out of a community that they know and they're used to would be difficult."
Home care package customers could, through their provider, pursue a brokered arrangement with a particular service like Dementia Australia, and negotiate access to the same or a like service at an increased rate.
But it was understood Dementia Australia's social group services were, at this stage, only available to Commonwealth Home Support Program Customers.
"When one of our clients moves from Commonwealth Home Support Program to a home care package the client is unfortunately no longer eligible for services from Commonwealth home support services," Dementia Australia chief executive Maree McCabe said.
"Dementia Australia do provide support during the transition and is required to adhere to the Commonwealth Home Support Program guidelines."
For those providers and organisations that did offer services for home care package clients as well as Commonwealth home support customers, the increased rate often meant a large portion of their allocated funding would have to go to a social activity if they wanted to attend one.
Funding was more likely to be spent on care, especially as needs increased.
"It's not that a home care package client can't participate in a Commonwealth home support social group [if they also accommodate home care package customers]," MCCI Multicultural Friendship Groups chief executive Chris Lacey said.
"It's just that if they do, they can't access it at the subsidised rate because the government views it as double dipping."
Rebecca Scouller said she would consider holding off on the home care package so her mum could still attend the weekly Dementia Australia activities.