IT’S tempting to say that, from a home care recipient’s perspective, almost any scheme for the provision of goods, equipment, assistive technology and home modification as part of the new home care program will be an improvement on what is currently in place.
However, with less than sixteen months to go until 1 July 2024, when the new home care program will begin, there is a lack of information about even the basic design of this new scheme.
For the sake of brevity, we will call the goods, equipment, assistive technology and home modification scheme: the equipment scheme.
The number of people in the new home care program will vastly exceed the number of NDIS participants, while the diversity of equipment in demand is likely to be similar to that in the NDIS.
The NDIS may not accept people who are 65 and over, but this does not mean disability as understood by the NDIS does not occur among people over 65, who will be looking to the new home care program to provide goods, equipment, assistive technology and home modification of the same grade and quality as NDIS participants receive.
The NDIS scheme for goods, equipment, assistive technology and home modification is fully developed, albeit criticised for its clunkiness and slowness in the way it operates. It demonstrates how difficult it is to get a good equipment scheme going.
CPSA believes and is concerned the aged care sector is ill-prepared for what ought to be an entitlement goods, equipment, assistive technology and home modification scheme.
CPSA is not aware of any centralised collection of information about equipment etc currently funded out of Home Care Packages and under the CHSP. This lack of information would be a major obstacle in the development of an equipment program.
The Department of Health and Aged Care’s January 2022 discussion paper on the new home care program discusses a program for providing goods, equipment, assistive technology and home modification, noting the shortcomings of both the Home Care Packages Program (HCPP) and the Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHSP), which have a limit of $1,000 and $10,000 for home modifications per care recipient.
The January 2022 paper states that “the new assessment program” assigns “a low-level, mid-level or high-level need” for equipment. The paper doesn’t say it, but these three levels (and an implied no-level need) appear to correspond very neatly with the current four levels of Home Care Packages. However, the paper specifically says that people will not be “placed in one of the four broad home care package levels”.
The October 2022 discussion paper includes the equipment scheme in a list of things on which there is, it says, already “broad agreement”, saying that those things “are not the focus of this paper”.
However, the October 2022 paper does say a few, new things about the new equipment program.
It will be separately funded. That suggests it will not be part of a package or a personal budget as in the NDIS, it seems.
What is not clear is if the separation of the equipment scheme from other services, for which a personal budget will apply, will be an entitlement scheme, like the rest of the new home care program if it is to give effect to Aged Care Royal Commission recommendations, or an eligibility scheme. The latter would inevitably come with a waiting list.
The October 2022 paper 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. However, the paper does not say anything about discussions that the federal Department of Health and the state and territory departments might be having with the states and territories.
Low-cost items, the paper says, will be available through “national procurement arrangements”. In CPSA’s view it is highly likely that high-cost items will be too, but it is unclear what form those “national procurement arrangements” will take.
So, there you have it. Here’s what we know:
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.
This is the second in a series of posts discussing the new home care program under development by the Department of Health and Aged Care. For the first post, click Getting ready for IHAC, the new In Home Aged Care program.