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How can I continue to receive care if my local council stops delivering aged care services?

A new funding model from the Federal Government has caused some Victorian councils to stop providing aged care services and there are concerns other councils around the country may follow suit.

<p>Recent changes to at home aged care funding has prompted some local councils to stop supplying service providers. [Source: iStock]</p>

Recent changes to at home aged care funding has prompted some local councils to stop supplying service providers. [Source: iStock]

Some people receiving in home care services in Victoria have been rocked by sudden closures of services by their local councils. So what exactly has caused this?

What has happened?

Following the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, the Federal Government accepted the recommendation to transition to a new funding model for home care service providers to a “fee-for-service basis” or “Consumer Directed Care basis”, which depends on the number of services a provider supplies to each of their clients, rather than being paid through block grants.

The current funding model is still running for another 12 months and the Australian Services Union for Victoria and Tasmania told the ABC that they have been telling councils that they don’t yet need to exit their services.

This change has seen councils, such as Mornington Peninsula Shire Council and Mildura Rural City Council in Victoria, to consider transitioning out of providing services when its contract with the Commonwealth ends in June 2023, meaning private providers would need to fill in the gaps.

Elder Rights Advocacy Programs Manager Debra Nicholl says many councils have already transitioned away from providing services in the wake of the changes, noting there were concerns clients could be overwhelmed by the new system.

Is my council implementing this?

So far, around 27 councils in Victoria have been the first to pull the trigger on closing their services down.

The Health Department told Talking Aged Care that the issues currently seen in Victoria for in home support have not been seen in other States or Territories.

However, industry peak body Aged & Community Care Providers Association (ACCPA), says that they have been receiving feedback from council providers ever since the funding change was announced.

Many council providers are considering exiting the sector because it may no longer be cost effective for them in the future – and this issue is not contained to just Victoria.

While some councils in Victoria have already confirmed they will be stopping their aged care at home services, many councils across the country have yet to confirm if they will or will not stop providing services.

To find out if your council provider is concerned about the recent funding changes or considering exiting the sector, you should contact them directly to clarify if this may impact you and the care you receive.

What happens if my services are stopped?

If your service provider decides to exit the sector, your provider should be assisting you to transition to an appropriate substitute private provider.

However, if you are not happy with the service you are moving to, you may need to shop around and compare private providers to secure the appropriate place to receive care, but that isn’t always an easy process to navigate, particularly online.

The Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN) offers support to help consumers make the right choices.

They can be contacted on their free and confidential aged care advocacy support line on 1800 700 600 and from 8 am to 8 pm Monday to Friday and 10 am to 4 pm on Saturdays.

If you need an interpreter, you can ask OPAN to arrange one when you call, or contact a translator service and ask them to contact OPAN.

If you are deaf and/or find it hard hearing or speaking with people who use a phone, you can contact OPAN via the National Relay Service. The Relay number is 1300 555 727 or their SMS relay number is 0423 677 767.

You can compare home care providers located near you by using the AgedCareGuide.com.au directory.

Transferring from your current provider

The service you are transitioning to from your current council provider should contact you directly to discuss your care and support needs, and organise the appropriate times for your services.

However, there is a possibility that the turn around during the transition process takes longer than expected. Some reports from home care consumers include older people being left without support at home for months.

What if I don’t like my new provider?

If you have moved to a private provider and you are unsatisfied with the service, you can change at any time.

All you need to do to end your current Home Care Agreement is to let your provider know that you wish to stop receiving their services.

It is best to let them know in writing and ensure you specify the date you wish to cease your agreement with them.

Most providers require 14 days’ notice but your notice period will be mentioned in your agreement.

If you want to go to a provider of your choosing, you can start searching for a new home care provider and start that process. Here are basic steps to moving to a new provider:

Step 1: Look for services in your area that fit your needs. You can use the AgedCareGuide.com.au to find services to compare.

Step 2: Contact the home care provider of your choosing and start going through the process of applying. Once organised and have an agreement in place or soon to be signed, get an agreed start date for your new services.

Step 3: Contact My Aged Care to get your referral code reactivated and give to your new provider. When your new provider activates the code, your current provider will be notified of your intention to leave.

Step 4: Notify your current provider of your end date and request information of the transferral process to a new home care provider. Depending on your Home Care Agreement, you may have to pay an exit fee.

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