Many providers are feeling confused and stressed by changes affecting the home care sector which took effect from the beginning of this month, according to an industry trainer.
Lorraine Poulos of Lorraine Poulos and Associates says more than 500 delegates attended seminars in capital cities and regional centres around the country during May and June in the lead-up to the implementation of the changes on July 1.
Delegates heard from a range of legal and financial experts as well as industry and consumer stakeholders including StewartBrown, COTA, etools and Mable.
“What has emerged from these seminars is that there is still some confusion and anxiety about the new changes in home care,” Ms Poulos told Community Care Review.
Ms Poulos says providers are faced with so much change that many haven’t had enough time to consider their financial models, or what the changes will mean for their daily operation.
“This was evident in the feedback from delegates who were unsure of what the new pricing table may mean for their business if they were ‘priced’ out of the market by those providers who may decide to price their services at a low cost without realising the implications of low service utilisation,” she said ahead of the introduction of the regime at the beginning of the month.
“Many delegates were concerned that lessons from the NDIS, where many providers have exited the sector, were not being taken seriously by stakeholders.”
Pricing requirements causing angst
Another key source of confusion is around the mandated requirement by government that all approved providers must publish the prices they charge for certain common care and services in a standard format on My Aged Care, she says.
“Administration and Case Management are no longer separate categories and the model of charging a percentage of a home care package for these is no longer possible,” Ms Poulos says.
“There are two new categories – Package Management and Care Management – that have very clear definitions and requirements to validate charges made to a consumer’s package of care.
“Providers will also be required to attach to the Notice a copy of their full price list or a link to the full price list on their own website.
“Government has indicated that compliance with the new legislation will be monitored for ‘reasonable’ charges however there is no real guidance about what would be considered as ‘reasonable’. “
What does self-management mean for providers?
Another emerging theme was the concept of self-management and what that may mean operationally.
Anna Millicer from COTA gave an presentation on the topic and provided attendees with a range of resources to assist in implementing this model should consumers require it.
Meanwhile representatives from Maddocks provided an overview of what needs to change in the Home Care Agreement along with some guidance around ‘bundling’ of services, with Senior Partner Lucille Scomazzon advising providers to ensure their home care template agreements were updated in time for the July 1 transition.
Ms Scomazzon stressed that providers need to carefully manage the transition of existing consumers onto the new pricing regime, which will require consideration of the rights of the provider to change or increase prices.
“There is much work still to be done by providers,” Ms Poulos says.
“Coupled with the new Quality Aged Care Standards and recent Royal Commission findings there seems to be an unusually high level of stress within the sector.
“Many delegates expressed their concern that there is not enough time, resources or energy to keep up with the current level of reform that is being experienced by stakeholders including consumers and their families ”