HOME Care services in Orange are in crisis with no spaces for people who need basic services like bathing, showering and help getting dressed.
Central West Home and Community Care (HACC) Development Officer Robyn Frost said insufficient funds had forced the service to close its books with spaces only becoming available if someone died or went into a nursing home.
Nurse manager of Orange's Aged Care Scheme Gary Hillier said elderly and frail patients were increasingly at risk after leaving hospital and slipping through the net of home care services due to lack of funding.
"It means people are having to stay in hospital longer because there's no-one to help them at home, or they are having to access inappropriate services," he said.
He said a tightened 'scoring' system brought about by the crisis immediately excluded many prospective clients in need of help with staff left to carry a heavy burden of excluding people from services.
Ms Frost said stalling on the signing off of funding contracts between the state and federal governments in the last two years, compounded by increasing requests for assistance to support people in their own homes, meant there was a long waiting list.
"At the moment we are only able to offer a service to people with dementia or challenging behaviour and increasingly family and friends have to step in," she said.
Orange's HACC Centre, on the corner of March Street and Lords Place, provides an umbrella for several services including Meals on Wheels, and Community Transport, however, although these services have some paid co-ordinators and drivers, they rely largely on volunteers.
"Home Care is a completely different service where our 30 staff are involved in comprehensive training and privacy issues related to their work where they need to go inside people's homes," Ms Frost said.
Orange City Council community services committee chair Cr Pam Ryan said families and carers were now being placed in a ‘heartbreaking and frustrating' position.
"We are becoming a global community and are not living in the times of an extended family being close by, but as a community there may be something tangible we can do to encourage people to help neighbours where they can."
Cr Ryan said although council had no direct input into funding other than the overseeing of state and federal funds and appointment of a co-ordinator, she would continue to meet stakeholders and explore any support options.
Member for Calare Peter Andren said he was concerned constituents were being disadvantaged. "The reality is we have an increasingly aging population with federal and state allocations to encourage people to stay in their homes falling a long way short of the mark."
In 2002 there were 2.5 million older people (aged 65 plus) in Australia, representing 12.7 per cent of the total Australian population.
In 2031 older people will represent 22.3 per cent of the total population (5.4 million people) and by 2051 they will represent a quarter of the population.
A spokesman for Russell Turner's office said no recent complaints had been received about the lack of home care places.
"But I would think that is more about people's pride in the age group affected, where people feel they somehow have to struggle on their own," she said.
Last week Federal Minister for Aging Julie Bishop and NSW Minister for Ageing and Disability Services issued a joint statement staying $3.32 million would be injected into State services for the frail, elderly and disabled who required help at home.
However, Ms Frost said demand for services across NSW far outweighed financial allocations.