Are self-managed home care packages a good idea?

Article published 3 February 2021

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PEOPLE often ask about ‘self-managed’ Home Care Packages they see advertised. Is ‘self-managed’ a good idea?

This is generally how it works.

You go onto an aged care worker recruitment website to find an aged care worker with the experience and qualifications needed to do the care work you need done. Once you have found someone who works out, that worker will then come to you all the time.

The companies which run these recruitment websites will tell you that in this way you will get more hours than you would with a Home Care Package provider, plus you get someone who you are happy with.

That’s not a bad story and in many cases it will work out this way.

But there are a few things you should be aware of.

First, you will still have to find a Home Care Package provider, who will receive the care subsidies the Government pays you and who will also receive any care fee contributions you are required to make. This provider does nothing else. It just pays money to the recruitment website company, which will then pay your worker.

The rest you manage. That’s okay if you are able to, but if you have care needs beyond help around the house, chances are that it quickly gets too much.

In such cases, the care worker manages themselves without, or very little, oversight or scrutiny. A recipe for disaster.

Second, the contract is between you and the worker. This makes you an employer of a casual worker.

If anything goes wrong, it’s between you and the worker to resolve.

If the issue can’t be resolved, the Home Care Package provider who pays the recruitment company which pays the worker won’t lift a finger. Neither will the recruitment company.

If you go to the regulator, the regulator will contact your approved Home Care Package provider, who will point out that it is not a party to the contract you have. The recruitment company would say the same thing, only the regulator would not even contact them because the recruitment company is not an approved provider.

You would be on your own.

Self-managed home care is a bit like driving a car un-registered and un-insured.

Self-managed home care was scrutinised by the Aged Care Royal Commission and recognised as in need of reform. No doubt the Commission’s final report (out on 26 February) will make recommendations to address the glaring possibility for things to go very wrong in self-managed home care.

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