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New measures to boost home care package take up


Older people waiting on the national queue for home care will receive a letter three months before they are to be assigned a package to encourage them to plan for services, the department has said.

As Community Care Review has reported, sector peak bodies have been calling on the government to provide extra support to consumers struggling to activate their package under the new system.

Since February 2017 packages have been allocated directly to seniors rather than providers. Once assigned a package, older people have 56 days with the option of a 28-day extension to select their provider before their package is withdrawn.

From this week, the department will notify older people on the queue when they are likely to be assigned a package within 90 days.

The measure aims to reduce the time taken for older people to activate their package and increase overall take up of available care, the department said.

The letter to be sent to consumers will encourage older people to:

  • contact the Department of Human Services to complete an income assessment form to determine care fees that will apply
  • start researching home care providers and compare services and costs
  • use the My Aged Care service finder.

Half of seniors assigned a home care package have not yet started researching providers: department survey.

The Department of Health told a sector webinar this month 54 per cent of consumers it had surveyed had not yet started researching providers 35 days after being assigned a package.

Opting out of queue

The letters will also be used to encourage consumers on the queue to opt out if they are not actively seeking services.

The department said its research showed 31 per cent of older people who had been assigned a package had decided not to take it up, but hadn’t yet opted out of the queue.

A further 30 per cent were still deciding whether to take up a package 35 days after being assigned one.

An older person can opt out if they are not ready to take up a package but still retain their place in the queue, should they choose to rejoin later.

The department encouraged providers to opt a consumer out of the home care queue if their needs are being met by an interim package. This will avoid an automatic upgrade to a higher-level package and a buildup of unspent funds, the department’s Paul Linden said in the broadcast.

The department said it would be focusing on ensuring the queue is made up of those with a “genuine and immediate intention” to access services.

ACAT assessors also have a role to play in identifying if a client is immediately seeking services.

Priority levels for home care

The department said the proportion of consumers being assessed as high priority and requiring urgent care (29 per cent) was also higher than expected and would need to be addressed.

Mr Linden said the department had been working with ACAT assessors to ensure that high priority approvals reflected only urgent cases and were based on a person’s current  care needs.

High priority approvals impact where packages are assigned nationally.

The letters will be written in English and older people requiring the information in another language will be referred to the Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS).

Elsewhere, the department acknowledged the high demand for home care packages and said a range of options were being explored to address it.

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8 Responses to New measures to boost home care package take up

  1. Anon March 1, 2018 at 1:14 pm #

    I think this is a great initiative and will help people wanting to access a package do so in a timely manner and encourage those not requiring the package right now to opt out before the ‘allocation date’, freeing it up for someone else

  2. anon March 1, 2018 at 2:55 pm #

    In my experience the more letters the clients receive only increases their confusion as to whether they have actually been assigned a HCP or not.
    In the small country town I live in, eligible clients for a HCP, you would be lucky if 1 : 50 even had a computer to do some research into the prospective service providers let alone start planning what services are available & how a HCP can assist them.
    Save the money from not sending out the letters & direct it into education around what are HCP.

  3. Val. March 1, 2018 at 6:14 pm #

    All the new system is doing is making it harder and harder for people to understand and access packages. The overall assumption being that Consumers are able to and want to manage their own packages when they are already not coping with basic daily needs.
    An assumption that all Consumers have access to technology or someone who can help them! Very big assumptions indeed!! The new system has failed totally in delivering what the intent of CDC was. The system has streamlined everything for the respective Government Departments and Service providers….but has left the Consumer and their needs out of the equation all together. There was a very good reason Case Mangers existed. Now we have Consumer Consultants who invariably refer Consumers back to My Aged Care causing more confusion. Many Consumers give up out of sheer frustration or an inability to understand or cope with the requirements. God help those with cognitive or other impairments who are trying to do all this alone. The system is cluttered because of confusion and inequity. Bureaucrats just don’t get it! Many Consumers do not want to manage all this by themselves or are unable to.

  4. Caroline March 1, 2018 at 6:59 pm #

    I think all attempts to improve access and allocation are valid as is the education of older people and their family around HCPs. The 3 month interim period is good for those with and without a computer as they have the option to call a provider via MAC or have family/friends, where available, to be part of the process. Yes, there will always be a minority who will fall through the cracks and that might be where more intensive work is required.

  5. anonymous March 2, 2018 at 12:52 pm #

    I agree that the process is confusing for the majority of people with full cognitive function let alone someone with any degree of impairment. My view is this new letter will confuse most clients not help.

    As for the high priority clients, Mr Linden stated assigning a high priority ‘should be based on a person’s current care needs’… no.. it’s actually not. The guidance given re high priority is that it’s for when a client is considered to be at high risk in terms of rapid physical, mental or cognitive decline or in terms of personal safety. The client may have a carer at risk of or at crisis point.
    All clients approved for a level 4 HCP have high needs so that can not be used to identify those needing high priority.

    Finally… letters are sent to clients in English however MAC knows a persons need for an interpreter and their preferred language… they have it on file… so why not be more considerate and send letters in the identified preferred language rather than expect clients to contact TIS or rely on family?

  6. Melissa March 2, 2018 at 1:11 pm #

    •contact the Department of Human Services to complete an income assessment form to determine care fees that will apply – would it not make sense to send out the income assessment form with the letter?
    Hence eliminate another step that the client needs to take

  7. Kate Lambert, CEO Daughterly Care March 3, 2018 at 4:30 pm #

    Regarding Val’s comments dated 1 March 2018. It’s interesting how a change can produce such different outcomes for different people.

    I have personally audited hundreds of Home Care Package monthly statements from all around Australia…I know first hand that Consumer Directed Care has seen percentages kept by Approved Providers fall and the hours of support and care increased, so long as the Elder has family, an advocate or access to a good Provider to assist them.

    My clients’ experience of Home Care Packages under Consumer Directed Care has been the complete opposite to Val’s description.

    My clients have enjoyed significant benefits such as:

    1) significantly increased number of hours of care received by transferring away from Old School Approved Providers to Daughterly Care Community Services; and

    2) significantly improved service from Case Managers, Co-Ordinators and Registered Nurses (their comments).

    Yes, I agree with Val that the system is confusing, but it has always been confusing and secretive, at least now it is TRANSPARENT. It was confusing before and there was no transparency and no accountability.

    Every week we see consumers choosing and then receiving better solutions for themselves with the help of their family.

    Also, we see it as part of our role to educate and advocate for older people. When we are not a good solution for a consumer we refer them to an Approved Provider who IS a “better fit” for them because we know they will be happier. No one wants unhappy clients. They thank us for our honesty and recommendations.

    So long as this new letter is written well it will be helpful to consumers, albeit there will be consumers who are confused by it.

  8. Ted Wards March 8, 2018 at 3:40 pm #

    Im at the community level where people still live in their own homes and have had no interaction with this system. The majority of feedback I receive is that the recipient has no idea what the letter means, nor do many of their family.

    The issue is that this system is still set up for the convenience of the Government and service providers, and is not user friendly. I spend a lot of time explaining to both the person and their family members what it all means and what they have to do. They ring my aged care and come away more confused. I have to admit with my interactions with them I have come away feeling exactly the same.

    There are now many reports around highlighting that this system simply does not work, not only in Australia but also in England where this model came from and was dropped.

    Theoretically this system should work, consumers should have more say, but the problem is that service delivery is in the hands of providers who still take their own approach and use their own fee structure and their is no consistency at all.

    People think we are joking when we say we charge $25 for a day trip out where we pick you up, take you to a destination, provide morning tea and lunch and drop you home again and we do it three times a week (with different people each time). Or they laugh when we tell them that our in centre day is $10 and that includes being picked up, morning tea, lunch entertainment and activity and dropped home for $10.We do a lot because we still receive block funding and because we are a small organisation our overheads are low and our clients are not paying for a huge infrastructure. There are no admin fees nor the daily fee, there is a contribution and thats it.

    We have members who now have decided that they would rather pay a private cleaner and get exactly what they want for how long they want, and join our activities. Many have rejected the packages because of the admin fees, the daily fee and so on. This funding model does not work for larger organisations who have high overheads.

    The reality is most pensioners would rather have a great day out for $10 than have a cleaner in their homes for half of the time they are supposed to be their, not really doing much and paying daily and admin fees on top of the service charge. Even though I explain to them that things like the daily fee is a government imposed charge and not the organisation, they still cant see why they need to pay a daily fee for a weekly service. I have to agree with them, I would not pay it.

    I don’t blame people for not taking up packages. Ive been shown invoices and the admin fees for 1,5 hours of cleaning not to mention the service charge out of their individual budgets means they get very little and the admin fees are not even considered under the current framework, organisations can charge up to a certain percentage which really goes into paying wages etc. One invoice was for $180 for 1.5 hours of cleaning,with fees and services charges. If it was me I would say keep your budget Ill find my own cleaner!

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