Input wanted on home aged care redesign

Stakeholders are invited to provide feedback on proposed reforms of the in-home care program.

Older Australians, service providers and care workers are invited to provide feedback on proposed reforms of the in-home aged care program.

Scheduled to start on 1 July 2023, the new system’s implementation has been postponed for 12 months after stakeholders complained the initial model – which was set out in the Support at Home Program Overview paper released by the Coalition federal government in January – differed from the royal commission recommendations, would put home care recipients at risk, and was being rushed.

A new in-home aged care program will replace the current system of four government-funded programs:

  • Commonwealth Home Support Program, which provides entry-level services to support older Australians with daily living
  • Home Care Packages – to assist older Australians with more complex care needs to live independently and safely at home
  • Short-term Restorative Care – which helps older Australians to manage and adapt to their changing care needs
  • Residential respite – to enable older Australians to stay at an aged care home for a short time.

As per the royal commission recommendations, the system is undergoing a major overhaul.

Issues raised include:

  • long wait times for care
  • confusing program arrangements
  • high administration fees
  • services not always well targeted
  • older Australians do not always get the help they need to support their independence.

These issues have been exacerbated by workforce shortages and underpaid workers.

Previous consultations

The discussion paper – A New Program for In-Home Aged Care – builds on previous consultations for reforming in-home aged care that found broad agreement to a range of elements, including:

  • improving the consistency of assessment of aged care needs by independent assessment organisations
  • introducing a new scheme for goods, equipment and assistive technology and home modifications that supports older Australians to remain independent
  • explicitly funding care partners to monitor older Australians’ clinical needs and support them when they need help
  • introducing a service list that provides more clarity around the services available in the home.

However, while further work is being conducted on those program elements, they are not the focus of the discussion paper.

Five areas of focus

Instead, the document outlines the five areas of focus of the new in-home aged care program:

  • how to give older Australians the opportunity to manage their own services simply and easily should they choose to do so
  • how to best implement the desired clinical oversight and practical assistance through care partners for older Australians receiving care at home
  • how to fund providers to meet the full cost of care while achieving value for money across different service types, regions, and client cohorts
  • how to ensure the flexibility to respond to the changing needs of older Australians
  • how to foster innovation and future investment in in-home aged care.

What will the new program look like?

The indicative model brings together existing in-home care programs while addressing concerns raised by the royal commission on previous consultations.

It proposes:

  • assessment for aged care services using verified assessment tools
  • early support for independence at home, including aids and equipment, home modifications and allied health
  • support plans for monthly ongoing services that outline service levels
  • flexibility for older Australians to adjust services according to their needs
  • care partners to provide clinical monitoring and support as needed
  • potentially higher levels of support at home (pending further research)
  • a mixed funding model for providers with a combination of activity-based payments in arrears and grants
  • program growth to meet an ageing population
  • risk proportionate regulation
  • automatic data capture on services delivered, enabling improved reporting for older Australians and providers and better program oversight by government.

Submissions welcome

Interested parties are invited to provide a submission regarding the indicative model and the discussion questions outlined in the paper.

Submissions may be written or uploaded into a web form on the Department of Health and Aged Care’s Aged Care Engagement Hub.

Alternatively, stakeholders can call My Aged Care on 1800 319 209 and provide their views over the phone.

Submissions will be open for six weeks until 25 November 2022. Early submissions received by 31 October will shape further consultation in November.

In the coming months, the department will continue with its consultations through seminars, workshops, and analysis of the submissions.

In December 2022, the department aims to schedule a third webinar to update the community on what it has learned through these engagements and the likely direction of the new in-home aged care policy.

“I welcome your feedback on the questions raised in this discussion paper. We can learn from your experiences to ensure the new in-home aged care program delivers excellence in aged care services for older Australians, their families and their carers,” said Minister for Aged Care Anika Wells in the discussion paper’s foreword. “These reforms must meet the challenges of the coming decades. We have to do it once and we have to do it well.”

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Tags: aged care reform, home care,

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