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An easy guide to the changes to home care

Whether you’re living at home or in a retirement village, the Australian government’s home care packages can help you to stay independent for longer.

Home care changes photo - RetireAustralia

On 27th February 2017, the federal government implemented changes to the way home care packages operate, giving consumers more choice and flexibility. In this article, we discuss what’s changed and how you’ll benefit.

How has home care changed?

Previously, the government awarded home care packages to service providers. This meant that when a person needed funded care, they had to use the service provider who had a vacant home care package. Now, the packages will be allocated to you, the consumer. Once you’re approved for a home care package, you can contact any approved service provider and ask them to deliver your care services.

Kerrie Storey, RetireAustralia’s Care and Services Development Manager, said, “Consumer Directed Care, or CDC, was first introduced for all home care packages in 2015, but this change moves more control to the consumer, to the consumer’s benefit.”

More flexibility

Because the funding for your home care package is now linked to you rather than to your provider, it will be easier to change providers if you need to. For example, if you move to a new area, you can simply take your package with you and find a new provider.

Ms Storey explained, “Previously, if you moved from the area you lived in, you would have to vacate that package and then find another provider. Any surplus funds you had left in that package could not be transferred across. But now, if you decide to move, you can take your package with you.”

If you do have surplus funds in your package, these funds will now be transferred to your new provider.

Better method of prioritising customers

Another change is the implementation of a national database of available home care packages. Once you’ve been assessed (simply go to My Aged Care and organise an ACAT assessment), you will be placed in a queue until a home care package becomes available to you.

Your place in the queue is determined by your particular needs and circumstances and how long you’ve been waiting for care. Previously, there was no consistent approach to prioritising people for home care.

There is now an exit fee

You may have to pay your provider an exit fee if you stop using them. This fee is simply to cover administrative costs. The price of this exit fee will vary between providers but should be clearly stated in the Home Care Agreement you sign with your provider.

Everything else remains the same

Outside of these changes, home care packages will essentially remain the same. There will still be four levels of home care with the funding available in your package increased at each level of care. Consumer Directed Care means that you will work with your chosen provider to tailor your care package to meet your goals and needs.

You will still need to apply to My Aged Care to complete an income assessment to determine how much of your home care package will be subsidised, and you’ll need to complete an ACAT assessment to demonstrate your eligibility.

Your home care package will still provide you with the same type of services, including domestic assistance, transport, personal care, and social support, food services or medication assistance. The government will offer extra services on top of your home care package if you’re a veteran, have dementia or are experiencing financial difficulties.

For more information about home care packages, visit http://www.myagedcare.gov.au


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