THE start of the new In Home Aged Care program (IHAC) is planned for 1 July 2024. One part of the new program will be a different way of funding goods, equipment, assistive technology and home modifications.
It’s tempting to say that almost any new equipment scheme for goods, equipment, assistive technology and home modifications will be an improvement on what is there now.
Currently, people “pay” for equipment out of their Home Care Packages and have to do without other services and “save up” if an item is expensive. Hardly ideal.
The Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHSP) has a limit of $1,000 for equipment and $10,000 for home modifications per care recipient. Not ideal either.
A new equipment scheme which simply provides what’s needed sounds great, but with less than sixteen months to go until 1 July 2024, the lack of information about the new equipment scheme is worrying.
The Department of Health and Aged Care has published two discussion papers about IHAC. One in January 2022, and one in October 2022.
The January 2022 paper promises that “the new assessment program” assigns “a low-level, mid-level or high-level need” for equipment.
The October 2022 paper says that the new equipment scheme will be separately funded. That suggests it will not be part of a package or a personal budget.
What is not clear is if this separation will be an entitlement scheme or an eligibility scheme. Entitlement schemes give you what you need when you need it. Eligibility schemes give you what you need if it’s available, so it usually comes with a waiting list.
The October 2022 paper also suggests there will be separate arrangements for high-cost and low-cost items.
High-cost items could, the paper says, be provided through state and territory equipment schemes. If the states and territory governments agree, that is. There’s a question mark over this.
Low-cost items, the paper says, will be available through “national procurement arrangements”.
It is highly likely that high-cost items will be too, because if the states and territory governments won’t play, the only alternative will be something national.
It is unclear what form those “national procurement arrangements” will take.
So, there you have it. Here’s what we know about the new equipment scheme to go with the In Home Aged Care program:
In less than sixteen months’ time, we will have an equipment scheme providing equipment at low-, mid-, and high-levels, probably exclusively through national procurement arrangements funded separately from the rest of the new home care program.
CPSA is concerned that the federal Department of Health & Aged Care is underestimating both the volume and the diversity of the demand for equipment.
The number of people in the new home care program will vastly exceed the number of National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) participants, while the diversity of equipment which people will need is likely to be similar.
The NDIS only accepts applications from people who are under 65, but this does not mean that disability as understood by the NDIS does not occur among people 65 and over, who will be looking to the new home care program to provide goods, equipment, assistive technology and home modifications of the same grade and quality as do NDIS participants.
The NDIS scheme for goods, equipment, assistive technology and home modifications is fully developed albeit it has been criticised for its clunkiness and slowness in the way it operates. It demonstrates how difficult it is to get a good equipment scheme going.