In the CDC starting blocks

A leading community care provider has announced some fundamental changes to its business offering and practice model ahead of the July 1 start date for consumer directed care.

Above L-R: At yesterday’s offical launch of My Life, My Choice, My Way – Paul Ostrowski, CEO Care Connect; Dorothy Docherty, Chairperson, Consumer Voice Committee Care Connect; Senator Mitch Fifield; and Fred Maddern, Chairperson Care Connect

You can fall into the trap of thinking, oh we already do person-centred care.  At the start of the process all our case managers categorically believed that they already practiced person-centred care. At the end of the pilot, having now understood what it involves, staff realised they did not.” 

By Keryn Curtis

Eastern state community care provider, Care Connect, yesterday unveiled its new person-centred model of practice entitled My Life, My Choice, My Way at a function in Melbourne with Victorian Senator and Shadow Minister for Disabilities, Carers and the Voluntary Sector, Senator Mitch Fifield.

The new model, aligned strongly with state and federal government health reforms related to consumer-directed care, is the result of a two year research and development process and a successful pilot last year.

Care Connect chief executive officer, Paul Ostrowski, said developing and implementing the seven-step model – which involves working with individuals to develop a plan of support, taking into account all aspects of their life including health, emotional wellbeing, family and community supports – has been a long and complex journey.

“It’s a whole philosophical approach but it has very practical implications across the organisation,” said Mr Ostrowski.

My Life, My Choice, My Way involves a fundamentally different approach to the way that our client advisers work with the people we support.  

“In the past, a case manager – and the word ‘manager’ is important here – would have a discussion with the client and take a management approach to their needs.  That was just the practice model we all used, informed by the desire to do everything you can for that person.” 

Mr Ostrowski said that an extensive body of research both in Australia and internationally, now demonstrated that a consumer-directed approach is more effective.  

“We know now from a great deal of research, that people who have control of their funding and who can lead the decision making process, are more likely to have stronger health outcomes and positive implications across aged care and disability.

“Federal and state governments have changed their approach,” he said, pointing to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and consumer-directed aged care services which will apply to all new home care services from July 1 this year.  “And we know that Vic Health has adopted the active enablement model too – of doing with, not for,” Mr Ostrowski said.  

A fundamental shift

Under the My Life, My Choice, My Way practice model (see illustration above) there’s a new language too.  Care Connect staff have become ‘advisers’ and ‘facilitators’, working with clients to help them obtain what they want from their funding. 

“So for example with the third step in the program – plan my future – in the past it would have been a discussion with the case manager and client about a management approach.

“Now, the client is invited to bring anyone important in their life – their family members, a neighbour, carer, friend… anyone in their circle of support – along to a facilitated discussion.  It can be in their home or anywhere they choose and the adviser facilitates a discussion where the client makes the decisions,” said Mr Ostrowski.

In line with this shift, the organisation has completely divested itself of all service provision, focusing solely on advisory services and brokerage.  

“We believe that independent advice is a very strong value and it would be a conflict of interest to position ourselves as independent advisers and to also provide the services.

“Over the course of the last 18 months, we have systemically exited the provision of services and now have a brokerage model.  There are hundreds we deal with all around Australia,” he said.

Making the leap

Mr Ostrowski says the process of transition has been positive but does not deny that there have been some challenges for staff.

“There’s no doubt that facilitating a big public conversation with a group of people can be a challenge and remains a challenge for some.  What brings people along is when they get the positive response.”

In developing the new model and devising the pilot, Care Connect engaged an external international consulting group – Helen Sanderson and Associates – to conduct a critical assessment of the organisation’s practices.

“We wanted a no holds barred assessment,” said Mr Ostrowski. 

“You can fall into the trap of thinking, oh we already do person-centred care.  At the start of the process all our case managers categorically believed that they already practiced person-centred care. At the end of the pilot, having now understood what it involves, staff realised they did not.  

“And the good thing was that the clients said they were happy before but they were even happier now,” he said.

Mr Ostrowski said he felt very excited about the future. 

“We believe we are well placed for the future as knowledge brokers, providing a key information source with this facilitation methodology.

“No question, there is an enormous technological challenge for the sector in making the shift to a person-centred approach but we are practicing using the traditional system and making modifications to that.  It will all be well available for the July 1 deadline,” he said.

Tags: care-connect, consumer-directed-care, keryn-curtis, my-life-my-choice-my-way, ndis, paul-ostrowski,

1 thought on “In the CDC starting blocks

  1. Congratulations team. What a groundbreaking and innovative way to grab the bull by the horns and take action. I am sure your clients will be exceptionally pleased with the new service model. Best of Luck 🙂

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