Home Care Changes and How to Access Support at Home

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27 Feb 2017

HOME CARE CHANGES AND HOW TO ACCESS SUPPORT AT HOME

Living at home for longer is now easier for older people than ever before and thanks to new reforms being introduced on 27 February; older people will have even greater control over their own care.

The reforms, called Increasing Choices in Home Care, will see home care funding allocated to the consumer instead of to an approved service provider.

This gives the older person the power to choose their home care provider and also makes it easier if they want to change, for example if they move to a new area or want to find a provider that is better suited to them.

Previously they would have been offered a home care package by an approved provider, and wouldn’t have been able to change the provider without losing unspent funds.

In addition, a new national prioritisation process is being introduced. All eligible consumers will go into a national queue via My Aged Care, and will receive home care packages based on need and how long they have been waiting for care.

To help you understand home care and how to make the most of these services, we’ve put together a list of commonly asked questions and advice about how to choose a home care provider.

What is Home Care?

A range of care and services that help you, or the person you care for, to continue living at home for as long as possible.
Home care can be subsidised by the Commonwealth Government, depending on your eligibility.
Home care services  include:

  • support services – such as help around the home, visiting the doctor and attending social activities
  • personal care – such as help with showering and dressing
  • nursing care, allied health (i.e. physiotherapy, podiatry, speech therapy) and other clinical services

More information on what can and can’t be paid for under a Home Care Package - http://www.myagedcare.gov.au/help-home/home-care-packages

How is it Funded?

Depending on your needs and preferences, you may be eligible for Government-subsidised services. These fall into two categories:

  • Home and Community Care (HACC)

HACC is for those who only need a low level of support, such as cleaning, shopping, participation in social activities or transport.

  • Packaged Care

Packaged Care is for those who are likely to need more home care services as time goes by, as needs increase
There are four levels of package, taking you right through from simple home support to more regular clinical services, such as nursing and even dementia care.

How Do I Access HACC or Package Care?

HACC

To find out if you can get funding for HACC (Home and Community Care ) you need to be assessed by the Regional Assessment  Service.  You do not need a referral to do this.  You can request an assessment directly.

Packaged Care

To find out if you are eligible for a Home Care Package, you will need to be assessed by an Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT).  
ACATs are an Australia-wide service and are based in hospitals and the local community. The assessments are free.
The ACAT will also determine whether you are eligible to receive Australian Government subsidised aged care services.
An ACAT will:

  • Assess and approve your eligibility for a home care package
  • Provide you with information about home care services in your local area
  • Help you access the care you need
  • Help you access residential respite care if needed

The ACAT will approve you as eligible for a specific level of package, either 1,2,3 or 4. You will receive a written confirmation to advise you of the assessment outcome, the level of care you are eligible for and an overview of that care. 
If you are eligible, you are expected to contribute to the cost of your care where your personal circumstances allow.
Your GP can refer you to an ACAT or, if you are in hospital, the nursing or medical team there will take care of your referral.
Alternatively, you can contact an ACAT via the government website My Aged Care - http://www.myagedcare.gov.au or call 1800 200 422 between 8am and 8pm on weekdays and between 10am and 2pm on Saturdays.

How Do I Find a Home Care Provider?

The ACAT team will provide you with a list of providers or you can research local providers via My Aged Care.

What to Consider When Choosing a Home Care Provider

1. Short-term needs and long-term objectives

When evaluating your options, remember it’s about setting you up for the future, plus meeting immediate needs.

2. Cost

There are a few vital questions to ask to help you understand what you’re being charged for, including:

  • What is the hourly rate for services?
  • Are services charged in 15, 30 or 60 minute blocks?
  • Is there an additional cost for weekend or evenings?
  • Is there a charge for extras beyond the hourly rate, for example travel?
  • What is the cost for specialised services?
  • Are there entry or exit fees?
  • Will I be charged an administration fee and what does it cover?
  • Will I get a monthly statement? Providers should give you a reconciliation of what has been spent and how much of your budget is left.
  • Can I top up my own package?

3. Staff

Navigating aged care can be difficult, so ask the service provider if you will get a dedicated care coordinator who will spend time with you to understand your needs.

Also, ask whether you will have the same members of staff coming to see you or your parents. It’s important the staff are consistent so they can develop a relationship.

4. Service range and restrictions

A provider who has a wide range of services, without any restrictions on what you can buy and from who, will offer greater value longer term. There’s greater flexibility and means the support they provide can respond to your changing needs.

5. Purpose

Finally, what’s the passion or purpose of the organisation and does it align with your own beliefs and goals for the future?

Getting Started

Once you’ve chosen a home care provider, you’ll need to meet with them and agree a care plan.
A care plan forms part of Home Care Agreement which is the contract between you and the home care provider. Your care plan won’t be delivered until the Agreement is signed.
Your provider must work with you to identify your goals and design a care plan to help you reach those goals. 
Your care plan cannot change without your agreement. Your service provider must give you a copy of any agreed changes to the care plan for your records.

How Do I Change Providers?

The first step is to research new providers and compare the services and fees with your current home care provider.

You can find a new home care package provider by using the service finder or you can call My Aged Care on 1800 200 422 and they will help you find a provider.

Once you have found a new provider you will need to contact My Aged Care on 1800 200 422 to re-activate your referral code. You need this referral code to give to your new provider before you can start receiving their services.
You’ll then need to speak to your service provider and let them know you intend to change and agree a date that they’ll cease to provide the services  – you have a legal obligation to tell the provider you intend to change, before the date you change.  
When you have agreed an end date with your current provider, you have 56 days from the end date to enter into a Home Care Agreement with a new provider.
The start date with your new provider must be after the end date you have agreed with your old provider and the dates cannot overlap.

If you would like any further information or you have any questions our friendly Home Care team can help, please call 1300 26 26 26.