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Understanding your home care agreement

So you have decided on a home care provider that will provide you the services you need, fantastic! But what comes next?

Key points:

  • Your home care agreement is legally binding, so make sure you understand everything within the document

  • Providers will design a care plan just for you that is included in your home care agreement

  • Advocates can be engaged if you want extra assistance negotiating your home care agreement

A couple talk to their provider about their home care agreement
Your home care agreement holds every bit of information about what your service provider will be providing to you in the way of care. [Source: iStock]

Before you start receiving services, your home care provider will provide you with a care agreement to sign, which will encompass all the information of your agreement.

It is a vital document between you and your provider, so you need to understand everything within the agreement before signing it.

Why is it important?

Your home care agreement holds every bit of information about what your service provider will be providing to you in the way of care, as well as outlining what is expected of you when receiving this care.

It will explain the ins and outs of the fees and charges that you need to pay, outlines all the services and care you will receive including who is providing the care, and will also state your responsibility as a recipient and the organisation's responsibility as a provider.

It can be a very important document in the future if there is an issue with the provider you chose or the care you are receiving.

What is in the home care agreement?

Your home care agreement should include everything you discussed as well as everything involved with receiving home care services.

Consumer advocate, Council On The Ageing (COTA) Australia, advises seniors to ensure the agreement covers the following:

  • Your name

  • A representative on your behalf (if you have one)

  • Who the provider is

  • Date of when the services start

  • The date when you signed the agreement

  • Level of your Home Care Package

  • Right to advocacy assistance

  • Supplements you are eligible for

  • An attached care plan around care and service

  • How often your care plan should be reviewed

  • Who will be providing the care services to you, for example, company staff or other suppliers of care

  • Cost of the services, it should be detailed about cost per hour of care as well as any surcharges that might apply

  • Late fees for if you don't pay for your services on time

  • Equipment that you may be hiring or purchasing through the service or within your package

  • All additional charges or services outside of the Government contribution and the agreed-upon fees you would pay towards your package

  • Information about your rights and responsibilities

  • Conditions of a suspension as well as the fees and charges involved with a suspension of services

  • Security of tenure, which guarantees all care and services will meet your in home care agreement as long as you also meet the conditions you have outlined

  • A statement from the provider about providing services through a consumer-directed care approach

  • Information about the organisation's complaint process

  • Termination of agreement information, process and 'exit' fees

  • Information about your responsibility providing a safe home environment, as part of workplace health and safety

  • Information about your right to confidentiality and privacy while receiving services and care from the provider

It's important to remember that this agreement is legally binding, so you should seek extra assistance with assessing your proposed home care agreement before signing on the dotted line.

Negotiating your agreement

When looking through your agreement, write down any queries or questions you have about any areas that confuse you or need clarification. 

All home care agreements should be provided in plain language so that they are easy to understand.

The provider who you want to get services from is obligated to make sure you understand everything within your home care agreement.

It is completely acceptable for you to negotiate fees and prices with the provider. Once they provide the details of how much things may cost, you can do research into other providers like on the AgedCareGuide.com.au compare provider tool to compare pricing.

This means you can negotiate with your potential providers to get the best value for money for you.

If your provider is not meeting all of your queries and questions, it may be a good idea to engage an advocate or advocacy group to assist you with this process. They can also help you with negotiating your home care agreement.

Additionally, if English is not your first language, you can engage the Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS) for assistance with translating the home care agreement into your preferred language.

​Your care plan

A care plan detailing your personal goals and your care needs should be part of your home care agreement.

It should explain what your goals are with your package and how the care and services you are receiving shall help you achieve these goals.

The goals can be big or small, it could include maintaining your mobility or gaining confidence in being independent. 

Your new provider needs to show they are going to be supportive of these goals by designing your care plan around them.

How did you work with your providing when organising your home care agreement? Tell us in the comments below.

Related content:

What is a Home Care Package (HCP)?
How much can home care cost?
How to have “the home care talk” with your parents

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