Getting ready for IHAC, the In Home Aged Care program

Article published 3 March 2023

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IT’S been years in the making but it looks as though 1 July 2024 will be the start date of IHAC, or the In Home Aged Care program.

It merges the current Home Care Package Program, the Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHSP) and the Short-term Restorative Care Program.

A lot is not yet known about this new program.

Even its name may change, but IHAC rolls off the tongue easily enough.

So, if you receive home care now, things will change on 1 July 2024.

They will change the most if you currently receive care through the Commonwealth Home Support Program, which used to be the home care programs run by the states and territories.

It’s going to be made like the Home Care Packages program but without the Home Care Packages. Instead of a Package, you will have a care plan. Your care plan will be based on an independent assessment. It will have an annual budget to go with it.

It will be much like the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

All this sounds very straightforward but isn’t.

Your current CHSP providers are used to receiving an overall subsidy upfront and they provide as many services as they can with that. It’s called block-funding.

That will be changed to what’s known as ‘activity-based funding’. The NDIS works on that basis, as does the Home Care Packages Program.

It means that your CHSP provider has to get used to being paid for a service after delivering it. So, from receiving a big lump of money upfront, they will now get paid monthly for just the services they have provided during the month.

In other words, your CHSP provider will have to dramatically change the way they organise what they do.

Meanwhile, there will be providers currently active in the Home Care Packages program and in the NDIS trying to poach the CHSP provider’s business: that’s you!

CPSA interprets information made available by the Department of Health to date as follows: CHSP providers who do community transport, meal services, social support groups and cottage and centre-based respite will not be affected. They will continue to be paid a big lump of money upfront. Nothing will change. They’re safe.

Another exception is likely to be made for providers who provide home care in what the Department calls “thin or niche markets”, meaning regional and remote areas generally, shunned by commercially minded providers.

All other CHSP providers, including those that provide domestic assistance and personal care, will be competing with providers who have been working with the new rules and the idea of competing for business much longer.

All in all, it means many CHSP providers will have a hard time surviving. Some have already said they will pull out on 30 June 2024.

The Government assures CHSP care recipients that service provision will not skip a beat.

However, a total of 1,407 CHSP providers supported 818,228 clients during the 2021-2022 year. The CHSP is a vast program and moving it from how it currently operates to the brave new world of activity-based funding is unlikely to be smooth.

If you receive care through the CHSP, ask your provider how they’re planning to cope.

Clarification: Initial publication of this post on 3 March 2023 failed to make it clear it’s CPSA’s interpretation of information published by the Department of Health that certain CHSP providers will continue to be block-funded.

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