Choice and transparency

Government funding for consumer directed care has just doubled.

By Stephen Easton

The Minister for Mental Health and Ageing, Mark Butler, yesterday confirmed the roll-out of 700 new Consumer Directed Care (CDC) packages across the country, among several aged care initiatives that began with the change of financial year.

The 700 new CDC packages add to the first 700 that were funded in last year’s Federal Budget so that now, in total, 1400 older Australians are able to direct flexible aged care funding to the service options they choose.

Selected approved providers can apply for the packages, 500 of which fund either low care, high care or dementia care and align broadly with CACP, EACH and EACH-D packages. Clients still need to be assessed by an Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT) to determine which particular package they are eligible for.

The remaining 200 will be consumer-directed respite care packages, delivered via local aged care providers and Commonwealth Respite and Carelink Centres.

Mr Butler said the packages would give 700 older Australians “a big boost in their quality of life and independence” and tied the initiative to the current industry reform process.

“Giving older Australians more choice in the care they access and improving support for their carers is critical to our efforts to build a sustainable aged care system that meets the needs of older Australians and their families,” he said in a statement.

But as well as increasing choice, one big advantage for clients of consumer-directed community care is that it also offers greater transparency of funding, according to Sandy Osmond, community care support officer for the Sunshine Coast with Queensland provider, Churches of Christ Care.

“[…] The consumer can see exactly what is happening and what the government is giving to the provider,” Ms Osmond said. 

“Some [providers] might give the client six hours and some might give them three, under the same CAPS package, so it makes it more open. They’re feeling more in control and more independent; it’s not just us going to them saying this is what you need.”

Churches of Christ Care has offered CDC low care packages at the Sunshine Coast and Bribie Island since the first round was announced last year, and have applied for more in the recent allocation.

“It’s about the consumer having more choice, but the delivery is basically the same,” she said. “Except when you go out to see the client, you actually talk to them about a budget.”

“It’s more open, so they can see what the government’s paying the provider each day for them and what it costs each hour for a staff member, and they can broker different carers.  They could say they want a specific carer from a different provider, if they really like that carer and they want that person to shower them, for example.”

Ms Osmond added that the consumer-directed care model was in line with the ‘enablement model of care’, based on healthy and active ageing, that Churches of Christ had decided to employ independently of government funding arrangements. 

“There’s not a lot of difference in the delivery, because you should be treating your clients that way anyway,” she said. “If you’re trying to promote independence and healthy ageing, you should be giving them choice anyway.”

2011-12 allocation of 700 new CDC packages – state by state:

  • New South Wales – 189 
  • Queensland – 119 
  • Western Australia – 94 
  • South Australia – 99 
  • Victoria – 109 
  • Tasmania – 39 
  • Northern Territory – 36 
  • Australian Capital Territory – 15

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