Aged care service contracting platform Mable has defended itself against criticism that it offers a model which operates outside the regulatory framework and should be banned.

Mable founder and CEO Peter Scutt told the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety on Monday that the online platform merely facilitates engagement between care workers and third parties who want to engage them.

“Its predominant focus is connecting people with people,” Mr Scutt said. 

Peter Scutt

“So the predominant person that wants to connect with workers are the individuals themselves, supported by families or a care manager.” 

More recently, the platform was opened to providers in need of staff during COVID.

Mr Scutt said rather than being a negative force in the sector, the model provided “profound benefits” to workers and consumers, as well enabling consumer directed care and making the home care dollar go further.

Fragmentation of the workforce

Counsel Assisting Peter Gray asked Mr Scutt if it was a fair criticism that the model fragments work, de‑skills professionals, places pressure on pay rates and reduces employment security.

“No, I don’t think it is,” Mr Scutt said.

“Mable as a platform isn’t an on demand or gig platform, it’s a platform that connects people and allows them to form ongoing relationships.  So it’s not a piecemeal work.”

Mr Scutt said the model could overcome the challenges faced by home care providers of offering tailored services to people with diverse needs, preferences, abilities, interests and geographical locations.

Unlike many providers, Mable is able to provide flexible workers and work schedules, he said.

“They’re agreeing those schedules directly with their clients.  When you put two people together, they’re actually much more flexible together in working out what works for both parties,” Mr Scutt told the commission.

Saving administrative costs

Mr Scutt also said using online platforms like Mable meant less of a care package is spent on care management, which in some cases accounted for up 35 per cent of the whole allocation.

 “The current charges for package management and care management can be fairly significant,” he said.

“Part of the challenge for providers is there is a lot of work in that rostering equation to try to make sure changes to rosters have implications for the rest of the workforce and the rest of the clients.

“So when you shift some of the ability for consumers to work out the rosters and make choices directly with workers, you reduce some of those charges.”

Using Mable could reduce the administration and care management fee to as little as 15 per cent of a package, he said.

“So there’s more money for services, and then you’re able to engage those services directly from a team of your choosing and it might be at $40 an hour versus, say, a provider charging $55 or $60. 

“Those two factors mean you can potentially get almost double the hours in some cases from the same funding.”

Those extra hours could drive quality of life be allowing time for relationships between worker and client rather than just focusing on the basics of domestic or clinical support.

“You can actually use that support to remain engaged with your community and maintain relationships,” Mr Scutt said.

‘Regulation dodgers’

Counsel Assisting Peter Gray

Mr Gray also questioned Mr Scutt on charges that Mable was a “broker operating outside the regulatory framework … that takes the provision of Home Care Packages outside the aged care regulatory framework over which the Quality and Safety Commission has scrutiny”.

He pointed to a submission by CPSA policy manager Paul Versteege that “the involvement of brokers without approved provider status in administering the Home Care Package program should be banned in the interests of both consumers and care staff”.

Mr Scutt denied this.

“I don’t believe that we’re operating outside aged care regulatory framework,” he said.

“The aged care regulatory framework still imposes the responsibility for care management and meeting the quality standards on the approved home care provider who is allowing their client to engage a team of people via the Mable platform, and still has ongoing supervision and oversight and comfort around the people they’re engaging.” 

Mr Scutt said in terms of consumer directed care, the model offered by Mable empowered consumers by handing them more choice and control.

“The actual benefits of our model are quite profound, I think, to consumers and workers,” he said.

This story first ran on Community Care Review.

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6 Comments

  1. Mabel takes all the benefits of the home care package and has none of the responsibility.
    In Mr Scutt own words:
    “The aged care regulatory framework still imposes the responsibility for care management and meeting the quality standards on the approved home care provider who is allowing their client to engage a team of people via the Mable platform, and still has ongoing supervision and oversight and comfort around the people they’re engaging.”
    What this really means that the approved provider has a responsibility to provide consumer directed care and cannot deny a consumer the right to choose Mabel but is still required to follow all the regulatory requirements without having any control on the people providing the service. Mabel gets all the glory (and funds) without any of the responsibility.
    Approved providers are required to keep records of their workforce, continuous training, etc. to ensure they understand their responsibilities to the consumer, understanding of and compliance with the Standards, whilst Mabel has none of these responsibilities.
    So contrary to Mr. Scutt poor excuses and explanations Mabel does operate outside of regulatory compliance!

  2. Organisations like Mabel has staff who has a Cert 3 certificate but no ongoing education, supervision, mentoring or training. They take no responsibility for standard of care delivered and parade like good guys giving the client the choice.
    Quality and Safety commission should apply the same standards on organisations like Mabel who abdicate their responsibilities to the clients.

  3. AAA should have pointed out that the contractual relationship is between care recipient and care worker(s). The approved provider is responsible for what the care worker does, but does not have the power to direct or, restrain the care worker. Mable operates a reckless business model.

  4. Thanks for your feedback. This is a report of proceedings before the royal commission during hearings into home care. You can rest assured it is certainly not a paid advertorial.

  5. Hi,
    We have a full service provider for my dad in Canberra and they outsource all the work and have no contact with these staff. When the regular carer can’t come to dad they often don’t know who is going to help dad Or if someone is going to turn up. They leave all the training and protocols to the sub contracting company. On occasions replacement staff are not briefed and can’t even provide basic care. They don’t even know when staff don’t turn up. Directly hiring someone would be much better.

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