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System too confusing for more than half of home care recipients


More than half of older people who have received a home care package are struggling to work out what to do with it because the system is “bewildering and broken”, according to a consumer think-tank.

Simply pouring more home care packages into the system without making it easier to access the services they provide won’t do anything to fix the problem, a report from the Consumer Policy Research Centre says.

Ben Martin Hobbs

The CPRC report, Choosing Care: the difficulties in navigating the Home Care Package market, found complexity and opacity are preventing many older people from seeking support.

It found 60 per cent of home care recipients needed help identifying and choosing a provider, which created a “hidden burden” that often fell to healthcare professionals or family and friends.

Author Ben Martin Hobbs, a senior research and policy officer with the CPRC, says the findings show it’s not enough to just fund more packages.

“The system has to be made easier, fairer and more transparent,” he told Community Care Review.

“Fees, prices and services need to be standardised and simplified so that people can compare information about what services they’re getting, what they’ll cost and how they’ll get it.

“We think there also needs to be easier systems and better support for health care professionals and carers to connect older Australians with appropriate providers.”

The system was often leaving older Australians unable to access the support that could help them live happier, healthier lives at home, CPRC CEO Lauren Solomon said.

“What we have here is a system that has not been built for the people trying to access it. That burden is simply being shifted to family, friends and healthcare professionals as people try to navigate this bewildering and broken system.”

Hidden burden

The report draws on research from the University of SA which surveyed 502 HCP recipients across Australia last June and July.

It found almost half of those surveyed relied on the help of a healthcare professional and more than one in three had to seek assistance from family or friends.

“For those older people without adequate family or healthcare support, it’s unclear whether they would even be aware of the available home care package support, let alone be able to access the system,” Ms Solomon said.

The report also found a third of home care recipients didn’t even know what level of funding they received or could easily understand their fees and charges.

What this tells us is that older Australians are sick of an aged care lottery where they are forced to choose a provider without the right information – COTA CEO Ian Yates.

Almost 40 per cent said they didn’t have a care plan outlining their needs and services, or who would deliver them and when .

Almost 90 per cent of respondents wanted clearer information, and 82 per cent supported simplifying fees and charges.

Eighty per cent said they wanted more transparency about the quality of providers.

Home care recipients not using My Aged Care

Although the internet is the primary channel for finding information about home care, 44 per cent of the older people surveyed said they were not confident using it and less than 7 per cent (6.8 per cent) said they had accessed the My Health Care portal.

Home care recipients “indicated a clear preference to talk to trusted individuals when making choices about their in-home care”, the survey found.

Mr Martin Hobbs said it was strange to use an online mechanism to deliver the home care marketplace to a demographic that was lacking in digital literacy.

“It’s not the channel where (older) people access information and it’s not the channel they prefer to use,” he said.

But while they indicated a clear preference for more phone-based information, half of those surveyed thought it was “very important” to improve the My Aged Care Contact Centre, which Mr Martin Hobbs said could reflect the role of other people in using the platform.

He said about 75 per cent of respondents wanted an independent organisation that could provide them with information about their package.

“Clearly there’s a real need for a support system while accessing and navigating the system,” he said.

The older person’s advocacy group COTA Australia said the study showed that older Australians were demanding simple, useful, comparable information to empower them make decisions about their care.

“What this tells us is that older Australians are sick of an aged care lottery where they are forced to choose a provider without the right information and chance determines the quality of the service they receive,” CEO Ian Yates said.

The report recommends:

  • Standardised fees, prices and service information
  • More support for healthcare professionals and carers in connection older people
  • More transparency about quality
  • Capacity building and training of employees in the My Aged Care Contact
  • More options for comparison and choice on My Aged Care
  • An independent body to provide advice about individual packages

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5 Responses to System too confusing for more than half of home care recipients

  1. Anton Hutchinson February 1, 2020 at 8:17 am #

    The system is confusing and while society shirks its responsibility and expects Governments to deliver an unpredecedented level of in home care rather than traditional family obligations it will deteriorate further.

    Society values are the practices that keep a civilisation together and we are down a sad track, we have little self respect and a sad lack of personal responsibility. We have an expectation that someone else will now care for not only our children but our parents while we twiddle our thumbs in lazy selfishness.

    Bring back the community nurse that helped with medical needs at home and get rid of the financially unsustainable Home care rort that sees the public doing family work.

    Home care and NDIS have and are failing to deliver affordable or safe outcomes.

  2. Annonymous February 3, 2020 at 11:57 am #

    Its easy to blame the victim…..
    Who will pay the mortgage, put food on the table, etc when carers have no choice but to work. It is 2020, not 1820. Most carers work and do the best that they can with the little time that they have available….
    We need solutions to the problem, not victim blaming.. that will get the system nowhere.

  3. Ted Wards February 6, 2020 at 11:52 am #

    This is hilarious from the point of view that at the 2012/13 so called consultation meetings we held Australia wide, with whichever department it was under at the time, were informed then that this would not work. Every point which was raised at the meeting by very experienced workers in the field was dismissed. Further, we were assured no one would slip through the cracks and that more services would be available to more people. It didn’t matter what objection was raised, what prediction was made, (all of which have occured and then some), we were all summarily dismissed. So, what is happening now was predicted by the industry 8 years ago…so how the Government can claim they didn’t know is absurd. No wonder many of us are just doing things our own way and getting people more services by not following the My Aged Care way. The old HACC system was not perfect but it was a lot better than this. Its time we held the Government accountable for this shambles that they knowingly create and support. We have every Government that’s been in power since 2012 and earlier when the planning began to thank for this system, one that was copied from the UK and there is still a class action against the Government over this system.

  4. Sarah Russell February 6, 2020 at 12:12 pm #

    “Navigate” has become the new buzzword in aged care. The first discussion paper from the Royal Commission is titled: Navigating the maze: an overview of Australia’s current aged care system. But it was not a maze when local councils, the Royal District Nursing Service and other not-for-profit and for-profit organisations delivered services to older people in their home. How did the aged care system become so complex that older people and their family need help to navigate it?

    My Aged Care has been such an unmitigated disaster that six years after it was introduced, an Aged Care System Navigator is being trialled to help people “navigate” the aged care system. The absurdity of needing a second service to assist people to use the first service brings to mind an episode of Utopia.

  5. Claire Clark February 6, 2020 at 12:29 pm #

    I left the sector for all these reasons when MyAgedCare was implented. I could not bear the heartbreak of seeing everything valuable about HACC eroded. Our services knew our clients and understood how to care very indiviudally for them. Older people trusted their Local Government officers or GP assist them with finding help locally. We all worked together to make sure older people felt safe asking us to refer them for locally provided meals, transport or other servcies due to the strength of our relationship in the community. No older person I ever assisted abused or over-used services. There was no need to package supports for anyone unless they were higher need. And Case Mangement… don’t get me started!

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