Elderly cleaned out to pay for program that was once free

PENSIONER clients of the privatised Home and Community Care program have discovered they must now pay for a service they used to get for free - and supply their own cleaning products.

Not-for-profit group Ozcare has taken over as the provider of a vital in-home care service for the elderly.

Hervey Bay pensioner Beryl, who did not want her last name published, is one of more than 500 people on the Fraser Coast who rely on the HACC program to help keep their homes clean.

Ozcare assumed the program for Fraser Coast and Bundaberg 12 days ago after Wide Bay Hospital and Health Services stopped being the provider because of State Budget cuts.

Under Ozcare, Beryl said the HACC service costs $5 an hour, money that must be found from a pension stretched to cover the cost of nurses, home maintenance, groceries and electricity.

She said she also had to find the money to supply a list of chemicals she was told she must now have in her home for HACC staff.

"It is a two-page list," she said.

"I haven't got the money to spend on what they want to use.

"People just aren't going to be able to stay in their homes.

"I've got my house up for sale."

Two former Wide Bay HHS staff members, who spoke to the Chronicle on condition of anonymity, said all HACC clients were high-risk elderly people.

Many lived alone and would struggle to afford the cost.

One former staff member said the stress of the transition had caused some HACC clients to become physically ill in the final weeks before Ozcare took over.

"They were getting sick in the end from having to say goodbye to all these people," she said.

A worker said some clients had been seeing the same HACC workers each fortnight for more than 14 years.

Ozcare state manager for community care Damian Foley said HACC clients in the Wide Bay were absolutely receiving a continuation of service.

He declined to comment on how many HACC clients may have gone without a visit during the transition, on the new charges clients must pay or on what products they must now supply.

"Our focus is very strongly on our clients," he said.

HACC hits hip pocket

  • The Federal Government program will now cost $5 an hour under its new private provider
  • Clients have been told to supply their own cleaning supplies, on top of the new cost

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