New home care manual provides clearer guidance

The updated home care guidelines will give providers much more clarity, says an industry expert.

The updated home care packages program guidelines give much more clarity to providers about what can and can’t be purchased, according to an industry expert.

“There are now clearer guidelines and clarification,” said Lorraine Poulos of LPA – which provides consultancy, training and support to the aged, disability health and home care sectors.

Released by the Department of Health and Aged Care, the 168-page operational manual is designed to help approved providers of home care packages understand their responsibilities. The guidelines provide information about fees and charges, package inclusions and exclusions, package budgets, and reporting and responding to special needs.

Lorraine Poulos

Speaking to Australian Ageing Agenda, Ms Poulos said, before the revisions, there was confusion and ambiguity. “The guidance material around the specified care and services that can be purchased under a package have been ambiguous in the past. And there was a very liberal approach to what could be purchased under a package.”

Some clients viewed their home care packages program as a “bank account”, said Ms Poulos, “to purchase goods and equipment rather than support for care.”

She added: “I think taxpayers would query some of the previous purchases that have been allowed through a home care packages program, particularly with people with much higher acuity levels wanting to stay at home.”

There needs to be a “reasonable test”, said Ms Poulos. “Is this a reasonable purchase for an individual?”

Ms Poulos told AAA that when the best use of funding is being discussed with a client, there can often be conflict. “Sometimes that can come down to case managers saying, ‘Is this an assessed need or a want?’”

Such conflict can cause a relationship breakdown between providers and clients, said Ms Poulos. “This may cause some angst with consumers who perhaps have been using their package money for things that now may not be considered in line with the package.”

The new guidelines are, she said, a big improvement. “There have been many grey areas and it’s caused a lot of confusion … I think the sector is very, very happy that there has been clarification.”

Making news

Upon their release, the home care guidelines made headlines. On Tuesday, Sydney’s Daily Telegraph reported that home care clients could be denied mobility scooters as the assistive technology was not listed in the updated manual.

This prompted Minister for Aged Care Anika Wells to take to Twitter to assure clients that wasn’t the case. “Mobility scooters have not been excluded,” she wrote.

The home care packages scheme is facing a major overhaul with a new operational structure slated to come into play from 1 July 2024. In the meantime, home care providers and other stakeholders are invited to participate in an ongoing consultation program.

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Tags: anika wells, guidelines, home care, lorraine poulos, LPA,

2 thoughts on “New home care manual provides clearer guidance

  1. Very interesting, given problems we are experiencing currently with provider we have been with for 6 plus years.
    Is this publication available to HCP recipients ?

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