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What’s changing in Home Care?

Did you know there’s a change coming to Government funded Home Care? The Government is changing how aged care is delivered in Australia, working towards a system that aims to support and empower older Australians.

The new Home Care changes may seem complex and you may be unsure how they’ll affect you (Source: Shutterstock)
The new Home Care changes may seem complex and you may be unsure how they’ll affect you (Source: Shutterstock)

The next big step in aged care reforms will commence from 27 February 2017, with changes to the Home Care Packages (HCP) program, giving consumers more choice and control about the home care services they receive and who provides those services. 

The changes may seem complex and you may be unsure how they’ll affect you. 

If you’re currently allocated a HCP and you’re happy with your provider and the services you receive then nothing will change. 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 if you have been approved for a HCP but have not yet started receiving care, then the changes will affect you.

Below we’ve outlined some of the key changes. 

What will change:

Who gets what
Instead of a HCP being owned by the service provider, packages will be owned by you, 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.

Once you have been approved you can contact any approved provider to give you the care you need (Source: Shutterstock)

Who pays and how

Because funding will be linked to you and not to an approved provider it will be easier to change providers if you wish, for example if you’re moving to a different area. You can simply take your package with you and find a new provider. 

This doesn’t mean the money goes into your bank account. The Government funding is still paid to an approved provider for them to pay the carers and other bills. It simply means the packages are portable and if you change providers any unspent funds will move with you to a new provider.

Priority
From 27 February 2017 there will be a new way to manage access to Home Care Packages. There will be a national pool of all available packages. 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 decide to change providers after 27 February 2017, the provider is 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 between you and the provider of your choice.

All these changes have been put in place to give you more say, flexibility and transparency in the way your home care services are delivered.

There will still be four levels of Home Care Packages, with the hours of care increased at each level of care (Source: Shutterstock)

What stays the same:

Home Care Package levels
There will still be four levels of Home Care Packages, with the hours of care increased at each level of care. This means that more hours of care and services are provided under Home Care Package level four and the least under Home Care Package one.

Type of care
You will still be able to receive the same type of care under each of the four Home Care Package levels, such as domestic assistance, transport, personal care, social support, food services or medication assistance.

Assessment
You will still need to be assessed by an ACAT/S. This will determine if you are eligible to receive Government funded services, what your care needs are and what level of care you are eligible for. 

Choice & control
The Consumer Directed Care (CDC) model will continue under the new system. You can be as involved as you want to be in managing your package and providers will work in partnership with you to determine your requirements and set goals to work towards.

Fees
There are no changes to the HCP program fee structure or the income tested fee which helps determine how much you’ll be asked to pay for services. Your assets, including the family home, are still excluded from the means testing arrangements for home care. 

Supplements
The Government will continue to offer supplements on top of the HCP subsidy to support Veterans’, people living with Dementia or financial hardship.

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