How is your Home Care Package going?

Article published 25 February 2020

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DO you have a Home Care Package and how is it going? If it’s less than satisfactory, don’t think you’re a whinger. You’re not alone. A survey of 502 people with a Home Care Package by the Consumer Policy Research Centre shows that the system really isn’t working the way it’s supposed to.

In finding a home care provider, people mainly (61 per cent) did not rely on the official “pathway” of My Aged Care. Instead, people asked someone they trusted. Only one third of people had found a provider without help from someone they trusted. Doctors and practice nurses proved to be great sources of information.

Many people (40 per cent) had some degree of difficulty understanding the fees and charges for their package. This is not surprising, because fees and charges are for services supposedly provided under a care plan, but 39 per cent of people had no care plan. In other words, they had nothing to check their invoices against.

Existing information and comparison tools are used far less than direct advice from health care professionals, family or friends. Only 7 per cent of people had used My Aged Care, the official online “pathway”.

Only a quarter of people had contacted the My Aged Care call centre.

The overwhelming majority (95 per cent) of people hadn’t switched provider and few (9 per cent) had even considered switching. This raises questions about the why we have consumer-directed care. The way it’s supposed to work is by providers competing against each other, but if it’s too difficult to switch providers, what’s the point?

Most people indicated they could access all the services they wanted, support staff were well trained, and they hadn’t underspent their package funding. However, almost a third couldn’t access all the services they wanted, almost a quarter considered staff were “somewhat” to “not at all” trained, and nearly a third had underspent their package funding.

When asked about preferred future delivery of Home Care Packages, a key finding was that 41 per cent preferred better support and guidance about package funding.

Just over a quarter wanted more control over package funding to hire professionals directly.

Two smaller groups wanted to delegate choice about support and care to an independent trusted advisor (18 per cent) or were not sure (15 per cent). This demonstrates there is no “one size fits all” model for delivering a Home Care Package. Instead, differing levels of choice and control might better enable package recipients to live longer and healthier in their own homes.

Finally, around a third of people reported that they received a package but could not identify what level of package funding they received. This raises significant questions about the ability of these people to effectively manage their Home Care Package budget, and therefore services they should receive based on the assessment of their needs.

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