Home care could lose human touch

Home care price caps will impact face-to-face care management, says industry expert.

Price caps will impact face-to-face home care management, says industry expert.

“Human connection is one of the principal features that both our employees want and our customers want,” said Helen Kemp – general manager community health and care at not-for-profit provider Benetas. “But in a Support at Home environment – which I think is going to be a low-cost high-volume kind of play – that human connection might be lost.”

Speaking to Australian Ageing Agenda, Ms Kemp added: “The challenge for the sector is how do you deliver that human connection in a price-constrained environment.”  

The pricing constraints of Support at Home would mean providers would have to deliver services differently, said Ms Kemp. “Not as much face-to-face contact – it could be more virtual contact.”

AAA spoke to Ms Kemp during last week’s Aged & Community Care Reform conference – a two-day online event hosted by advocacy group Council on the Ageing Australia.

She told AAA the new in-home care program’s design – currently being reviewed by the Aged Care Taskforce – would also see services standardised. “I think it means we will be forced into homogenising services, so there won’t be a price premium for quality.”

Helen Kemp

Ms Kemp said clients wanting extra services would most likely have to pay out of their own pockets. “If people are wanting a greater number of services, they’re probably going to have to pay for it,” she said.

“There are a lot of conversations with the Aged Care Taskforce at the moment around co-payments and user payments particularly in what’s going to be the burgeoning population of aged care recipients coming through the system and the affordability for government.”

Ms Kemp – who has more than 20 years’ experience in health and aged care – said the Support at Home model, which kicks in July 2025, will force providers to rethink how they do business.

“Providers have to be sitting back and thinking about the high-touch components our clients want, the affordability of that. How our carers interact with our clients and the number of times that they can do that and how that is going to impact the services that we deliver.”

There is also the next generation of clients to consider, said Ms Kemp. “Our future customer base is going to change enormously in terms of their expectations. The baby boomers are going to have a very different expectation of services – and probably more capacity to pay.”

To meet the boomers’ expectations, providers will need to embrace smart tech, said Ms Kemp. “They’re going to have to be able to use technology to deliver cheaper and more efficient services.”

How technology will reshape the sector is relatively unknown, she added. “We are the first generation of AI. What the second and third generations may deliver could be really interesting. We haven’t yet seen or realised how that might actually impact the future because we’ve only just started.”

Despite the uncertainties facing the home care sector, Ms Kemp told AAA she remains upbeat about the future. “I’m very hopeful,” she said. “And I’m very optimistic.”

Comment on the story below. Follow Australian Ageing Agenda on FacebookX (Twitter) and LinkedIn, sign up to our twice-weekly newsletter and subscribe to AAA magazine for the complete aged care picture.  

Tags: AI, helen kemp, home care, price caps,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *