Government outlines plan for Home Support Program

The Federal Government has confirmed it will continue with block funding of Home Support programs rather than moving to a mixed funding model as recommended by the National Aged Care Alliance.

 

The Federal Government has confirmed it will continue with block funding of Home Support programs rather than moving to a mixed funding model as recommended by the National Aged Care Alliance.

The Home Support Program discussion paper
The Home Support Program discussion paper

Releasing a discussion paper on the proposed design of the new $2 billion Commonwealth Home Support Program earlier this week, the government said there was further work to be done before individualised funding for consumers could be achieved.

The discussion paper outlines the government’s plan for the Commonwealth Home Support Program, which is set to begin from July 2015 as part of the next phase of the Living Longer, Living Better reforms.

The changes will consolidate over 30 different service types that currently exist in the Commonwealth HACC Program, National Respite for Carers Program and Day Therapy Centre Program into just 15.

For example, the number of respite service types will be streamlined from over 10 to three – flexible respite, emergency respite and cottage respite, and formal linen services will be amalgamated with a provider’s funding for domestic assistance.

Case management, client care co-ordination and advocacy services will also be moved out of the Home Support Program with funding transferred to other areas of the aged care system or considered a standard part of service delivery.

The government’s discussion paper proposes the Commonwealth Home Support Program be structured according to six service streams which would be linked to consumer outcomes – increased independence, nutrition, social participation, assistance at home, access to the community and care relationships.

According to the paper, the Commonwealth Home Support Program will:

  • streamline the home support system in order to cut red tape for providers and improve access for clients
  • increase sustainability through a more consistent approach to client fees
  • be underpinned by a wellness and reablement philosophy
  • be accessed through My Aged Care
  • continue to build, and be informed by, a robust evidence base.

To reinforce the separation of assessment from program delivery, face-to-face assessment will be funded under My Aged Care. However, existing service providers that are funded specifically for assessment under the Commonwealth HACC program will have the opportunity to become part of the My Aged Care regional face-to-face assessment workforce.

Funding arrangements

In the short term, the government confirmed it would not be moving away from traditional block funding arrangements to a mixed funding model as recommended by the National Aged Care Alliance.

The government acknowledged there was further work to be done to reach NACA’s end point of individualised funding for consumers, which could be explored through the Aged Care Sector Committee. This would include the need for an assessment process which identified the amount of service a client requires and translated this into an individual funding amount and the capacity for fund holders to manage this (either clients or service providers).

The government however said it supported the introduction of greater service competition to ensure that client outcomes are maximised and that value for money is achieved, which the discussion paper said could include trialling approaches such as cashing out respite funds to consumers.

Transition arrangements for some clients

With the consolidation of day therapy centres into the new home support program, it is proposed that from July 2015 new clients entering residential care facilities will no longer be able to access day therapy centres for rehabilitation, putting the onus on the residential sector to offer these allied health services.

However, existing low care residents who are currently accessing day therapy centres will be able to continue to access the services as part of transitional arrangements.

A small number of home support clients with complex needs will also be transitioned over time to more appropriate levels of care such as Home Care Packages.

The government has also held off on incorporating the Assistance with Care and Housing for the Aged Program into the streamlined support program until it seeks further advice from stakeholders, given its specialised nature supporting older homeless people.

Nutrition risk screening

Other notable developments proposed include the introduction of nutrition risk screening to be included through My Aged Care. If a client is identified as at risk of malnutrition through screening, they will be referred to My Aged Care for face-to-face assessment services.

Development officers

The government will also introduce Commonwealth Home Support Program development officers to support providers in the transition to the consolidated program.

Development officers will help identify barriers to implementing the new program and support providers to embed a wellness and consumer choice approach into their service delivery.

Consistent home support fees

The discussion paper said there is likely to be some transitional funding available in 2015-16 and 2016-17 to assist service providers in the implementation of a national fees policy. This funding will support providers to establish information technology and administrative systems to charge and collect fees.

It is estimated that fees will move incrementally from a current national average of around five per cent of overall funding to 15 per cent nationally by 2017-18.

Read the full discussion paper on the Department of Social Services’ website. Stakeholders have until 30 June to submit feedback on the proposals to the department via CHSP@dss.gov.au

Tags: commonwealth-home-support-program, dss, lllb, my-aged-care,

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