EXPLAINED: The planned changes to home care
THE structure of government-funded home care in Australia will be overhauled early next year in a bid to give consumers more choice and control over their care.
From 27 February 2017, a range of aged care reforms will take effect, making it easier for users to change providers, as their home care package (HCP) funding will be transferable between service providers.
If you are currently allocated a HCP and you're happy with your provider and the services you receive, there's no need for concern or to do anything. Nothing will change and you will continue to receive care as normal.
But if you're new to the program, currently receive interim-care because services at the approved level were not available, or you have been approved for a HCP but have not yet started receiving care, then the changes will affect you.
Levels and types of care and the required assessment to access HCP will remain the same, as will fees, supplements and the existing Consumer Directed Care (CDC) model.
The changes are to enable greater choice, control and flexibility in the way you receive home care services, and how those services are delivered.
• HCP will be portable: Instead of a HCP being 'owned' by the service provider, packages will be owned by the consumer. This means that once you have been approved for a HCP you can contact any preferred approved service provider to give you the care you need. It also means the packages are portable and if you do decide to change providers any unspent funds will move with you to a new provider.
• Who gets paid? This change doesn't mean the money will go into your bank account. Government funding will still be paid directly to an approved provider for them to pay the carers' and other bills.
• Who gets priority?: A national 'pool' of all available packages will be created. After assessment, you will be placed in a 'queue' until a HCP becomes available to you. Your place in the queue will be determined by your personal needs and circumstances and the time you have been waiting for care.
• Exit fees: If you change providers after February 27, 2017, your old provider will be allowed to charge you an exit fee to cover any administrative cost, which will be deducted from any unspent funds. Exit fees may vary between providers and the amount should be clearly stated in the Home Care Agreement.