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Home care changes spark influx of new entrants

The number of home care providers has grown by 40 per cent in the last financial year as new entrants flood the deregulated marketplace, new figures reveal.

From 27 February approved home care providers are no longer required to hold a government allocation of home care packages in order to deliver subsidised home care.

Data supplied to Community Care Review shows the Department of Health approved 202 providers in the 2016-2017 financial year, more than two-and-a-half times the number of approvals in 2015-2016.

In the first half of 2017, approvals have intensified jumping from 72 in the last six months of 2016 to 130 between 1 January and 30 June this year.

Around half of new home care providers were already delivering an aged care service such as the Commonwealth Home Support Program or residential aged care, the department told a Senate estimates hearing in March.

Overall, the department received 331 applications last financial year from organisations seeking to become an approved home care provider. Of these applications, 202 were approved, 14 rejected and 115 (35 per cent) were still being assessed by the department. (See table)

  Approved home care provider applications Rejected home care provider applications
January – June 2017 130 13
July – December 2016 72 1
2016-2017 FY total 202 14

Data source: Figures supplied by Department of Health July 2017.

Spike in applications causing delays

The department confirmed to CCR a high volume of applications and a greater number of incomplete submissions were contributing to processing delays.

In an email seen by CCR, an applicant was told by the department in June it was unable to process its application within the legislated 90-day timeframe due to a “significantly higher than expected volume of applications”.

The department told the applicant the increase in applications had affected the timing of a decision and it was unable to provide a timeframe for finalising their application.

A department spokesperson told CCR quality issues with the information received from some applicants and the additional assessment work required was impacting the department’s ability to assess all applications within the 90-day timeframe.

“The department is currently processing the overdue applications as a matter of urgency and is encouraging new applicants to fully address all application questions and supply necessary supporting documentation,” the spokesperson said.

The department spokesperson told CCR seven per cent (16) of finalised applications last financial year were not assessed within the 90-day legislated timeframe.

The department can request further information from an applicant prior to the end of the 90-day period, and if submitted within 28 days a further 90-day timeframe applies.

When asked to confirm the number of approved home care providers at 30 June 2016 and 30 June 2017, the department spokesperson directed CCR to the government’s annual stocktake of places and said data for the 2016-2017 financial year was still being finalised.

According to the stocktake, there were 496 home care providers with operational packages at 30 June 2016. The addition of 202 approved providers last financial year would take the number of providers to 698, an increase of 40 per cent.

  Received home care provider applications Finalised home care provider applications Home care applications still being assessed
2016-2017 FY 331 216 115

Data source: Figures supplied by Department of Health July 2017.

Look out for Community Care Review‘s in-depth coverage of some of the new players entering the home care packages market in the forthcoming Spring edition of the magazine.

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