Take the time to find a home care provider you feel comfortable with
Do your research and check the background of providers for both their successes and failures
Ask a potential provider lots of questions that will help you come to your decision
Taking the time to choose your home care provider can make all the difference in making sure you feel safe and supported with the care you are receiving from a provider you trust.
Choosing a home care provider is really important and a very personal decision. There are a number of ways you can make sure the provider you choose is right for you.
Where to start
After receiving approval for the Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP) or a Home Care Package, you can use the Aged Care Guide to search for home care providers in your area that provide services you need.
You can also ask your Aged Care Assessment Team/Service (ACAT/S) for home care provider options. Your assessor cannot recommend a provider, they are only able to show you providers that are in your area that provide the services you require.
During your search, make a list of what you are looking for in a provider and what is important for you. For instance, you may want a provider with low fees to save yourself some money for other things or someone else may want a provider that can support their cultural needs.
Everybody has different needs and wishes they want supported or adhered to by their home care provider.
Making a list of what you are looking for can help reduce the number of providers you are choosing between to find the right one for you.
Talk to your family, friends and support networks about what you are looking for as well, as they may be able to help you research, provide independent opinions on providers, or share a personal experience about a potential provider.
Get to a point where you have a shortlist of providers in your local area to choose from. You can use the Home Care directory of the Aged Care Guide to find providers that suit your needs. At the bottom of each profile on the Aged Care Guide you can see reviews about these providers from people just like you.
Researching the providers
Creating a pros and cons list of providers, including what services they provide that could assist you, can help you reduce your short list further.
Take time to research a potential provider by:
Viewing their website, social media pages, or online reviews, including any news reports they may have been in
Find their current credentials, like quality certifications and industry awards, which can showcase proper expertise in aged care delivery
Look into a provider's history - do they have any past, or current, sanctions or notices of non-compliance? You can either ask the provider directly or use the My Aged Care non-compliance checker. The checker allows for suburb searches or provider name searches
Extra research can make all the difference in finding a good home care provider that will meet your care requirements.
Contacting the providers
The next step after making your list is to reach out to the home care providers you are considering.
With your pros and cons list and your research, you can enquire about their services and see how they deal with different scenarios.
As people say, first impressions matter. When you contact a provider you are considering, how did they answer your call? Was the staff friendly and happy to answer your questions or did they seem to be rushing to get you off the phone?
See if you can organise a time to meet the provider and make sure you have a list of questions to ask them.
Some questions you can ask a provider could include:
How long have they been operating?
Do you have a dedicated care manager?
Can you choose who is going to provide services?
Where and when will they provide your support?
What costs are associated with their services?
What are their hourly rates?
Do they charge exit fees? If so, how much? Do you need to give notice?
Do they charge case management fees?
Will there be any out-of-pocket expenses, like travel fees?
How often will your plan and the services you receive be reviewed?
How are they different from other service providers? What is their point of difference?
Are their staff qualified?
Are their staff required to undergo a police check?
Do they have an understanding of and experiences with supporting people from different cultures and backgrounds?
What checks do they complete to ensure quality of service?
Do they offer private as well as Government funded services?
If they have past or present sanctions, how did they deal/are dealing with them?
What is the process for, and how do they handle, complaints?
Make a note of these answers from your provider and see how they compare to others on the shortlist.
You should bring a couple things to your meeting with a provider, for instance, a copy of your Home Care Package or CHSP approval letter and support plan. If you have it, bring your income assessment as well, as this will help with your discussions around costs.
Once you have found the home care provider for you, organise a written agreement from your new provider that outlines the services you receive and their associated costs.
You should receive this agreement before your services start. You can read more about Home Care Agreements on the Aged Care Guide.
What are you looking for in a home care provider? Tell us in the comments below.