You may notice an increased level of advertising on both print and TV media from the providers of home care, so I thought I’d take this opportunity to provide an insight into what all the noise is all about.
So, what has changed?
From 27 February 2017, consumers now have full control over the care they receive at home from the care providers through the introduction of Consumer Directed Care (CDC) which essentially allows them to choose their provider e.g. Blue Care, RSL Care etc. and how the funds will be spent (i.e. they can design their own package of care depending on their requirements).
They may qualify for a Government funded package and top up with a commercial package provided by an accredited care provider.
The process for applying for the new Government package has also change, and now looks like this:
- The ACAT assessors will approve the individual for a home care package that fits into 2 specific bands i.e. Band 1-2 (Old Levels 1 and 2) and Band 3-4 (Old Levels 3 and 4)
- That individual is then placed on a national queue
- Once they reach the top of the queue they will receive an assignment letter from the Department of Human Services (DHS) advising their home care package, referral code and date they need to enter a Home Care Agreement
- The individual has 56 days from date of the assignment letter to advise DHS of the service provider to avoid their package being withdrawn.
- The home care agreement needs to be signed before the care begins to be administered.
These new changes mean that the care packages are allocated to the care recipient and not the service provider as was previously the case which, in my opinion is a real positive as it:
- Enables the individual to have full control over what care they choose to receive in their package, as well as selecting who administers this package
- Allows individuals to design their own package for care based on their individual needs, as opposed to having to choose from a set list.
This means home care packages will become portable, allowing care recipients to change service providers and transfer any unspent funds (less any exit costs) from their packages to a new provider.
Whilst this added flexibility is great for those in a position to fully understand and select their preferred service option, for others, having more choice can mean more confusion, and more reliance on family members and professional advice to assist with the decision making process.
Some important issues that I believe need to be considered with regards to the new home care options:
- Carefully check the home care agreement to clarify the fees involved (e.g. ongoing administration fees and exit fees). My experience is that some of these exit fees can be exorbitant.
- Always complete your research on the capability of the service provider you’re selecting – where possible, ask existing recipients and get their feedback.
- If you’re still unsure what it’s all about, seek assistance/advice and get a roadmap for the process involved.
I think it’s only a matter of time before the media and advertising hype around this topic dies down and the impacted individuals and their families are left with navigating through the new process. That is, of course, until the next lot of changes arise for everyone to digest and get their head around.
Accredited Aged Care Specialist
Sub Authorised Representative No. 345693