CHSP providers urged to shape own future

An expert advises against sitting back and passively waiting to see what the government dishes up.

The home support sector should be working together in a positive way to design the future that it believes will better meet the needs of older people, says an expert.

The sector has been sitting back and waiting for the government to announce the details of Support at Home program, said Kathy Eagar – an Adjunct Professor of Health Services Research at the University of New South Wales and Queensland University of Technology. Commonwealth Home Support Program stakeholders should not do the same, she said.

“The message for CHSP providers is that we should all be working together to think of a more positive, optimistic future – and one that will much better meet the needs of older people. And we shouldn’t just sit back and passively wait to see what the government dishes up; we should be very proactively designing an alternative future,” Professor Eagar told Australian Ageing Agenda.

Professor Kathy Eagar

Professor Eagar – who led the design of the Australian National Aged Care Classification and funding model and was an adviser to the aged care royal commission – will deliver that message in person at this month’s National Home Care Conference 2024.

She’s optimistic because of the CHSP’s delayed inclusion in the new Support at Home program – which is due to commence in July 2025, replacing Home Care Packages and Short-Term Restorative Care programs.

“They’ve announced that CHSP won’t transition to the program and they say no earlier than 1 July 27. And some people are saying, ‘well this may well be that it never happens.’ And if that is what happens, I think that’s a real cause for optimism. There’s been a real recognition in parts of government, not in the bureaucracy but in parts of governments, that what is being proposed is not a sustainable solution. And I think having that extra time allows the sector to develop a vision about a better model.”

Event takes proactive and practical approach

Hosted by newcomers Invox, the in-person and online event aims to put the home care and support sector at the centre of the discussion and offer home care and CHSP providers and opportunity to tackle their common challenges together.

“The debate at the [conference] will identify how the sector can proactively respond to reform,” aged care consultant and Invox team member Paul Sadler told AAA.  The event will have a practical angle, said Mr Sadler, who has been involved in arranging the line-up of over 30 speakers.

Paul Sadler

“The first day will focus on what the issues are that we have to solve. And the second day is very much future focused – here are the practical things that you as leaders in home care can take back to your services and begin working on,” he said.

The Melbourne conference includes a mix of panel sessions and individual presentations featuring academic and industry experts as well as representatives from peak industry associations on their views and perspectives of reforms.  

Mr Sadler, whose previous roles include chief executive officer of Presbyterian Aged Care for 14 years and head of state and national peak industry associations before and after that – will deliver a keynote addressing the government’s commitments and plans for the Support of Home program.

In it, he will unpack this week’s budget items such as the 24,100 additional Home Care Packages – which is “half of what the Aged Care Taskforce stated would be needed each year” and the decision to reallocate unspent CHSP funds to other aged care programs. “It would have been open to the government to reinvest those dollars back into basic supports for older people via CHSP,” Mr Sadler told AAA.

He’ll also discuss the delayed commencement of the Aged Care Act until July 2025. “This makes sense as it needs more time to resolve key aspects, such as the over-the-top penalty regime in the Exposure Draft and completing the fees and subsidies section in line with the Aged Care Taskforce recommendations,” Mr Sadler told AAA.

Mr Sadler will also discuss key areas of the Support at Home program that need attention to ensure the system is set up right and people can’t fall through any holes. Additional talking points include a cap on budget expenditure, a classification system for home care with more than 10 different pay points, and the management of consumer choice.

His key message on the fate of the Support at Home program aligns with Professor Eagar’s on the future of the CHSP – it’s not too late.

“My key insight is that we still have time to get the design of Support at Home right. It is important to do so as around 1.2 million older people will be relying on the program once CHSP is added into it.”

The National Home Care Conference 2024 takes place on 30-31 May at Marvel Stadium, Melbourne and online

Australian Ageing Agenda is a media partner of National Home Care Conference 2024

Tags: Invox, kathy eagar, National Home Care Conference 2024, paul sadler,

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