How the Changes to Home Care Affect Older Australians

03 Apr 2017  |
  • Home Care
Pexels photoIn February 27, Australia’s Home Care package program, which supports thousands of older people living in their own homes,  changed significantly. The program still delivers a wide range of services to support elderly people living at home, such as cleaning, meals and transport. Yet the new model gives individuals greater choice and control in how these services are delivered, encouraging new innovation, more competition and ultimately, better care and value for you or your elderly relatives.

Consumer Directed Care, as the name suggests, shifts much of the control of Government-funded Home Care Packages from aged care organisations to the individual recipient. From late February 2017, Home Care funding will become “portable” allowing the individual to shop around to choose the right aged care provider for them and even change providers as they wish. With 80,000 Home Care packages currently available, increasing by around 10,000 more forecasted annually over the next few years, this represents a major shake-up for the sector and a long-awaited win for older Australians and their families.

Living in your own home, and remaining connected to your community and social networks is the preferred option for many people, rather than residential care. With the Home Care Packages Program, the Australian Government provides funding to make living at home easier, paying for in-home support services such as cleaning and housework, transport, meal preparation, personal care, home physio and assistive technologies.

Depending on your level of need, this funding ranges from $8,000 and $50,000 per year. Thousands of people depend on these essential services every day to remain independent and active. This money contributes to a person’s safety and wellbeing or provides much-needed respite and support for their primary carers.

What improvements and benefits will I see with Consumer Directed Care?

The new system has been designed to meet the increasing care needs of our ageing population and to overcome the challenges of the old ‘provider-centric’ model which often put the needs of the provider first. It has opened the door to more approved aged care providers entering the market, leading to greater competition and encouraging more innovation. Now, you can take your package to any one of numerous providers – so you can see how they differ in terms of fee structures, inclusions and services offerings. Price is important in a Home Care Package because higher fees going to the provider equates to fewer frontline services for the customer. Now, package providers are competing directly on service quality and price, so you can expect a better deal.

One of the best advantages of the new system is the innovative models of care that will, and indeed have already emerged. Fierce competition for the consumer’s choice always inspires positive change. Newly approved providers are bringing fresh, innovative ideas and developing new technologies.

The online care management platform by CarePilot is one example of this trend, providing new online care tools and a service marketplace, giving the power back to the user so they better manage their own care. New services such as CarePilot are creating opportunities for consumers to get more value out of their funding by leveraging technology, resulting in reduced admin fees, a simplier management process, and more budget allocated directly for care and support services – delivering on the governments objectives of giving consumers a better deal.

How can I take advantage of Consumer Directed Care?

From February, older people who are eligible and assessed at either Level 1, 2, 3 or 4 funding, can take full advantage of the new Consumer Directed Care model. With individual packages providing funding up to $50,000 per year, it’s worth knowing what’s involved and deciding if Home Care is suitable for you and your circumstances. Registration is required via the Government’s My Aged Care gateway.

The assessment process remains unchanged with a series of steps including an ACAT (Aged Care Assessment Team) assessment and Centrelink means test to calculate the correct level of funding. The goal of Consumer Directed Care is to empower older people to live confidently and happily at home for longer, leading an independent and active life.

Dr Peter Hanley is Co-Founder and Managing Director of CarePilot

“CarePilot’s support is good for mum and me. Whilst I am away for work I have the confidence she is being well looked after.”

Craig E.