The predictions from some quarters that indigenous and CALD clients would not understand or be wary of the move to consumer directed care have been shown to be unfounded, with clients largely embracing the model.
However, it was essential that service providers considered the ways in which they presented information and how they engaged with clients in order to successfully deliver CDC with indigenous seniors.
That’s according to Anna Howard, CEO of Murray Mallee Aged Care Group, who will tell an Australian Association of Gerontology webinar on CDC and indigenous people that once her service’s Aboriginal clients understood the new model they embraced its flexibility and transparency.
Trust between service provider and client was essential, and for indigenous seniors this was particularly around feeling confident that the information they received was accurate and clear, she said.
Murray Mallee’s process of adopting CDC was greatly aided by its Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander coordinator Vicki Cummings, who had developed strong relationships over 30 years of working with indigenous communities, Ms Howard said.
There was often a cynicism and guardedness among indigenous people toward government bureaucracy and paperwork, and so when it came to Aboriginal clients having to be concerned with their individualised CDC budgets they were initially reluctant, she said.
However, over time the service had gone to lengths to simplify the information and regular statements it provided, which clearly set out the budget and any unspent funds to be carried over.
“Once [Aboriginal clients] got their heads around it, they embraced it. The fact that they can bank their time, if they don’t use it one week, is something they really appreciate,” Ms Howard told Australian Ageing Agenda.
Murray Mallee’s indigenous clients also appreciated the ability under CDC to purchase items out of their budgets which was something they could not do before, she said.
Ms Howard cited the example of an Aboriginal client living in remote and challenging circumstances who suffered with back pain. The service advised she buy a therapeutic mattress using some of her CDC budget. “She would not otherwise have had the resources to buy that mattress; it was unaffordable on her pension.”
‘Take it slowly’
Discussing the lessons her service had learned in successfully implementing a CDC approach with Aboriginal clients, Ms Howard said that taking a staged approach was key. “Take it slowly. Don’t overwhelm the clients. It’s best to present information in a phased fashion. Take them step-by-step through the budget, how to read statements, and so on.”
She also suggested community care providers avoid giving their clients a menu of potential service offerings, but rather look at the exclusion criteria in the guidelines as the broad parameters within which services can be chosen.
The AAG webinar ‘Living the Reality of CDC: Indigenous Communities in Focus’ takes place on Thursday, 30 July at 12pm.
Australian Ageing Agenda is the AAG media partner.