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Home care reform brings greater flexibility

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Earlier this week a number of changes were introduced for older Australians who need care at home. The Australian government will now subsidise home care packages directly to seniors instead of funding service providers in bulk - a move that gives older Australians control over their home care and how their government funding is spent.

So exactly what choice, flexibility and control do seniors now have?

Choice of service provider

home care

Previously seniors would need to find a provider in their local community who held an available Home Care Package in order to access home care services they were eligible for. The funding sat with the provider and was non-transferable.

Seniors couldn't choose to access their government subsidised home care from a different provider. Essentially they needed to wait for a package to be available and could only access that package of care through the provider it belonged to. Providers would be funded in bulk by the government through a tender allocation process.

Seniors will now have a much greater say in the provider and caregiver who provides their home care services. They now have choice, flexibility and control over who is coming into their home to support them.

If they don't like a particular caregiver coming into their home or would prefer a certain caregiver assist them with particular activities of daily living such as showering or dressing (for example a male or female caregiver or someone they have met before) they now have a say over this.

Timing of services

Seniors can choose not only who provides their care services, but when. They can specify the days and times they wish to receive their home care services where previously providers controlled when they would receive their care. For example instead of being advised a caregiver will be at their home to shower them on Tuesday sometime before midday they can now request a caregiver to assist them at 6am every morning.

Type of services

Previously seniors didn't always have the flexibility or control over their care plan and what services they received from their provider. For example they may have been allocated four hours "personal care" each week when what they may have preferred or wanted was the flexibility to instead have some assistance with light household duties such as changing the sheets or transport to the shops and help doing their grocery shopping and getting it home.

Seniors are now entitled to be as involved in managing their package as they would like to be. Providers have an obligation to work with clients to co-develop an individual care plan detailing the services they choose to receive and set out the cost of those services against their package funding in an individual budget. Providers must give seniors a monthly statement of expenditure and explained exactly where the funding is being spent.

Importantly they are entitled to have ongoing conversations with their provider about their care needs and goals and have the flexibility to change any of the above, at any time, to suit their individual needs and preferences.

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