In 2021, the Federal Government delivered a $18.3 billion aged care reform package to provide higher quality and safer care for older Australians. The five-year reform plan is being implemented from 2021-2025 following the final report of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.
The reform plan is based on five pillars, one of which is Home care, aimed at supporting older Australians who choose to remain in their home. Importantly, the reform plan addresses issues around self-management of home care packages.
In this article we outline some of the key initiatives in the aged care reform plan 2021-25.
Support at Home Program
In-home aged care currently consists of several programs that have different approaches to assessment, eligibility, service providers, funding and fees. As a result, not everyone receives care commensurate with their needs and funding is not used effectively.
In addition, the HCP Program has a history of long wait times, high overhead costs charged by some providers, and high levels of unspent funds, while the Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP) has variable service availability by location.
To address these issues, the Support at Home Program, commencing in July 2023, will replace the CHSP, the HCP and the Short Term Restorative Care (STRC) Program. Under this program, you will:
- Be able to self-manage your care, including by using multiple service providers if you want to (currently recipients can select only one Approved Provider). Under the new regulatory model, you will be able to book and pay for services as you see fit with multiple service providers
- Receive individualised service approvals, based on your assessed aged care needs and personal circumstances, rather than being placed in one of the four broad home care package levels
- Have access to a new program for goods, equipment, assistive technologies, and home modifications needed to live safely and independently, rather than needing to ‘save up’ package funds for these purchases
- Receive greater transparency, reduced fees and administrative costs under a new funding model to support point-of-delivery payments for service providers
- Have access to a Service List at a Commonwealth Government subsidised cost that will provide you with the type of services offered by providers. The program would bring all in-home aged care providers under one funding model. You can make payments based on the agreed prices for the service list, once services specified in your support plan have been delivered.
Better cost transparency and value for money
If you are currently receiving a home care package, or will be receiving one in the future, a new measure will start to improve how your package is used to ensure you receive full value for money and aren’t charged unreasonable or excessive administration fees by your service provider, and that you are empowered to change providers to better suit your financial situation.
Through this initiative, 500 providers will be reviewed per year, to guarantee prices being charged are fair and consistent with your funding agreement.
The Department of Health publishes quarterly reports of national media prices for home care services, care management and package management. The latest December 2021 summary shows significant differences between provider-managed and self-managed home care packages.
The data highlights that self-managing your home care package is significantly cheaper than having a provider manage it for you. In fact, independent research commissioned by Mable found that older Australians who self-managed their home care packages in some cases had access to twice as many hours of support.
Face-to-face help to navigate the aged care system
One of the most challenging parts of accessing aged care services — particularly if you self-manage your home care package — is navigating the aged care system, underlined by limited availability of face-to-face support.
Through an initiative of the aged care reform plan, you will now be able to access digital assistance, face-to face-services and if you need it, specialist support through a network of Community Care Finders. The Community Care Finders can also provide support to access other supports at the local community level.
More Home Care Packages and safety checks
If you have been waiting to receive a Home Care Package (HCP), this year you are likely to get one that is aligned with your assessed care needs. In 2021-22, the government released an additional 40,000 HCPs, and will release an additional 40,000 HCPs in 2022-23 as announced in the recent Budget. By June 2023, there will be 275,600 Home Care Packages available to older Australians every year.
Choosing Mable to find and directly engage your own Independent Support Worker is one of the best ways to get the most out of your home care package. By self-managing your package through Mable, you can connect with Mable’s Approved Provider Partners who offer a lower administrative fee, freeing up more funding for you to spend on the services you need.
Find out how Helen and Graham, who self-managed their home care package, found the support they were looking for on the Mable platform.
If you would like to participate in consultations or have your say in the aged care reform plan or any of its initiatives, visit the Aged Care Engagement Hub. Find out how you can get involved in the Support at Home Program.