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Self-managing your Home Care Package

Deciding to self-manage your own Home Care Package can provide you freedom and choice with what services you want to be provided, however, it does require a lot of dedication and time.

Key points:

  • You can have as much, or as little, control over the management of your Home Care Package (HCP) as you want

  • Self-managing doesn't mean you are doing everything by yourself, you will have regular communication with your provider

  • Set clear boundaries with your provider on what they need to handle and what you want to handle

Older woman organising her Home Care Package
Self-managing your HCP doesn't mean you are going to be doing it all alone, you will still have regular contact with your provider/s. [Source: iStock]

You will need to be prepared, organised and know all your rights under the Aged Care Act to successfully manage your own Home Care Package.

Many older Australian’s prefer to keep their independence and want to manage the care they receive rather than go through a third party.

When it comes to receiving care, it can be a very personal thing and sometimes the best person to help you get the services you need is yourself.

The main advantages of self-managing your package is that you have control over how your funding is spent and have authority over purchasing decisions.

As the manager of your package, you can negotiate with a provider on when services need to be delivered or how much you pay.

Self-managing also means you can choose the workers or contractors that provide you care. 

If you do self-manage your package, less of your package money will involve fees, leaving more money for services you require.

Self-managing your package is still a new concept to the industry.

Council on the Ageing (COTA) Australia, in an initiative funded by the Australian Government and in collaboration with RMIT University and seven Australian Home Care Providers, created a toolkit guide to managing your own Home Care Package.

They also created their own self-management model that aligns with the new Aged Care Quality Standards.

How do I do this?

When it comes to self-managing, it does not mean you are going to be doing it all alone. You will still have regular contact with your providers to make sure you are receiving the correct care and services.

Self-managing your Home Care Packages means you will be active in organising the everyday tasks of your package.

You also don’t have to completely self-manage, you are able to choose the tasks you want to undertake and how much you want to involve your self in administering your Home Care Package.

A provider of services needs to provide you information to make sure you understand how to self-manage your package, along with clear instructions of responsibilities and obligations, and support you through the process.

There are a few things your provider is obligated to help you with when self-managing, and that includes how to self-manage your package. This can include how to access your home care funds balance.

Is this best for me?

Compared to allowing a case manager to handle your allocation of services and finances, if you self-manage, you will need to handle a lot of extra work.

This includes advocating on your behalf for care plan reviews, making judgements or decisions around your own safety, plan ways to stay involved in your community, choose your care workers and when they provide you help.

You will need to manage your invoices and package budget, and keep a running record of the products and services you purchased and used, including invoices for all service purchases.

If there are any disputes, you will need to be able to handle the situations, whether there are problems with payment or provided services.

Important factors to take into account

Self-managing a Home Care Package can be very involved and time-consuming, it may also lead to lots of stress depending on what other priorities you have on the table.

If you suddenly develop a type of dementia, then self-managing may not be the best idea. Instead, you could have a family member or close friend self-manage your Home Care Package on your behalf so you can continue to have all your service wishes met without having to pay extra fees.

When deciding on providers, keep in mind that some providers may not give services to people that want to self-manage their package, or may have specific policies on self-management.

It is a good idea to shop around providers to see what best suits the way you want to implement your package.

Some services or products may be excluded from purchase for your package by the Government.

Services that don’t align with your care needs, and is outside of your budget or compromises other services you require, can be considered not eligible to be covered in your package.

Any service that increases your independence, helps you stay at home for longer, or improves your quality of life is considered eligible in your package.

If you want a service and disagree with a judgement that the service isn’t essential to optimising your care, contact either OPAN (Older Persons Advocacy Network) or the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission to get help from an independent source.

Delegation matters

When getting involved with a provider, it’s important to set clear boundaries on what needs to be supplied by the provider and what needs to be handled by yourself.

In your care agreement with the provider, it should state what their obligations are and what your obligations are.

Tasks to decide on include:

  • Choosing work workers and creating a roster
  • Making some purchases with a provider directly or all purchases.
  • Monitoring expenses of your fund
  • Making sure your funding is spent correctly and adheres to home care legislation
  • Care plan renewals and reviews
  • Payment approvals
  • And much more

You will also need to organise a way of purchasing/paying for the services to your provider, whether that’s via debit card, direct debit, or other payment methods.

Would you prefer self-managing your own Home Care Package or do you want help? Tell us in the comments below.

Related content:

What is a Home Care Package (HCP)?
Why choose private home care
How much can home care cost?

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