Aged care: changes to home care put consumers in charge

Older Australians now have more choice in how home care packages are delivered.

Older Australians who rely on help around the home now have more choice in how their home care packages are delivered. How will these changes benefit consumers?

Announced as part of the 2015/16 Federal Budget, the first stage of the Increasing Choice in Home Care measure was implemented on 27 February 2017. 

From this date, individual consumers now have control of the budget or their home care packages, rather than approved providers, which was the previous provision.

The change means that consumers can choose a provider to ensure they receive the services they require, delivered by a means that suits them best. Consumers can now simply advise the Government how they wish the funds to be distributed.

The move not only gives the consumer control of their own home care budget, it also means that if they receive poor service, they can easily switch providers. Also, should the consumer move, either within their own state or interstate, the home care package can simply be transferred.

The change is expected to benefit more than 100,000 customers over the next year and the outlined changes mean:

  • funding for home care packages is fully portable
  • when changing providers, any unspent funds – less account fees – will be directed to their new provider
  • process for becoming a new provider will be more streamlined

To find out more about these changes, future changes and how you may be affected, visit agedcare.health.gov.au

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    COMMENTS

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    Kactus
    1st Mar 2017
    11:03am
    What roles are Health Funds going to play in relation to home care?
    Are they going to directly employ providers to deliver these services?
    Ted Wards
    1st Mar 2017
    12:07pm
    Different system Kactus this is for the supply of domestic assistance around the house, nothing to do with health funds
    Ted Wards
    1st Mar 2017
    12:27pm
    Well that's the government Rhetoric anyway which of course is no where near reality. What we are suggesting to people who do not fully understand the implications of the change in direction to Consumer Directed Care or CDC is:
    - know what support you want, make a list of your goals or wish list if you like and see who will support those goals.
    - the organisation is supposed to support your goals and get the assistance you want, not the other way round. If they don't offer the support they have to find a way to provide it to you. No longer do you have to be frustrated about cleaners only doing a quick spit and polish, and making you sign for 2 hours when they have only done 45 minutes, or spent the majority of time talking to you over a cup of coffee and so on. If you are annoyed about some aspect of service, tell them about it.
    - if you are already receiving services and are not happy, make a list of what it is your not happy about and be clear about what you want.
    - discuss that with your present service provider and see if they will assist you with the support you want. The rhetoric is that if they cant provide you with the services you want, they need to broker the services
    - under a home package, you will now pay the full cost of the service from the budget. Previously the organisation was funded to provide that service and you just paid a contribution. You have to work with your service provider to ensure the budget covers your need for 12 months so you don't have to spend more money.
    - if you want to change service providers, the unspent portion of your funding is transferred to your new nominated service provider, less any fees. Watch the fees closely. Demand your monthly invoices, every month, with every cent explained.There are no caps on admin fees and these have been known to be as high as 60% or more of your total budget. Do not sign any agreements if you think the fees are too high. Thats the beauty of competition, go to another organisation and find out what their fees are! COmpetition should ensure the fees stay low. Use it to your advantage and negotiatie lower fees. Its their income so don't let them be precious. They are relying on your fear of not receiving services to make you pay higher fees.
    - Check your client agreement for exit fees. If there is no exit fee in your agreement they cannot charge you an exit fee. Don't let them fool you into paying an exit fee when no exit fee was stipulated in the agreement or contract.
    - If you change providers you do not lose your package or budget. The organisations no longer own the packages, the consumer does. Many people are being told by the bigger organisations that if they change they lose their package, services and funding. This is not true. Your unspent portion goes with you to whomever you nominate. As long as they are an approved provider they can legally assist you.
    - For the more savvy, you can take charge of your individual budget and broker the services yourself. Its a lot of work, you have to be able to prove that every cent went on services and approved activities, have invoices etc. You will save in admin fees and get more from your budget. Be wary of private people acting as service providers and charging fees. Some are legit, some are not and just after your budget.
    - Learn to be assertive with your provider, not aggressive. If you know what support you want then ensure you get it. For instance, if an alternative therapy helps you manage your health goals, it can be a part of your budget. Fight for your rights.

    There is going to be, and already is, a lot of misinformation and myths circulating about this mega change. It is also going to take people time to get out of the HACC space. Organisations no longer have the right to say to you we only provide basic cleaning services and do not do spring cleans etc. This is your budget and you are in control, so take control and understand what your rights are. You can always ring My Aged Care for more advice and undertake research with other organisations.

    Theoretically this system should work, but be aware its not easy and its going to take time for everyone to adjust to this new outlook.
    Kactus
    1st Mar 2017
    12:55pm
    Thanks for pointing that out, Ted.
    How do you become eligible for a home care package?
    And, if there are medical issues as well, wouldn't that involve your Health Fund?
    Fliss
    2nd Mar 2017
    12:04am
    Kactus, to obtain eligibility for home care, first step is to get an ACAT test.
    Jennie
    1st Mar 2017
    5:26pm
    I am concerned if there are organisations providing care packages which, like some aged care facilities, are for profit. I would always choose a not-for-profit organisation (as I do for my health fund).
    Does anyone know the answer to this. Ted?
    Migrant
    4th Mar 2017
    10:45am
    I have been quoted $400 as the exit fee to close an account.
    I think that $ 20 would cover the cost of the work involved.
    Am I being ripped off ?
    Should this be illegal just as the exit fees for mortgages were declared illegal, and as I hope the exit fees for retirement villages will soon become a thing of the past.?
    Migrant
    Migrant
    4th Mar 2017
    10:45am
    I have been quoted $400 as the exit fee to close an account.
    I think that $ 20 would cover the cost of the work involved.
    Am I being ripped off ?
    Should this be illegal just as the exit fees for mortgages were declared illegal, and as I hope the exit fees for retirement villages will soon become a thing of the past.?
    Migrant
    A. N. Onymous
    4th Mar 2017
    9:33pm
    Debbie,

    I'm confused. I just clicked on one of the "Click here to receive your FREE eGuide" links and wound up with a document that is TWO YEARS OLD.

    How does a February 2015 document help me when this article is talking about how things have changed recently (not to mention how they must have changed since February 2015)?

    Is the link invalid? Where do I go to get an up-to-date version?