Home care packages - reform
The Home Care Packages Program has been the subject of significant reform to ensure that the Program evolves to meet the care needs of our older Australians.
Australians are living longer and healthier lives and it is important that as people age, they have choice about their care.
Consumer directed care
On 1 July 2015, it became mandatory for all home care packages to be delivered on a consumer directed care (CDC) basis. CDC gives consumers greater choice over the types of care and services they access, how and when those services are delivered and by whom. It also gives consumers more control over their funds for their care and how those funds are spent.
The Australian Government released the Charter of Care Recipients’ Rights and Responsibilities – Home Care to ensure that consumers were aware of the Government’s expectation that delivery of home care package services must be achieved through an equal partnership between consumer and provider.
Increasing Choice in Home Care
The Australian Government announced significant reforms to home care in the 2015 16 Budget under the Increasing Choice in Home Care. One change was to improve access to home services and allow older Australians to choose who provides their care.
The first stage of the Increasing Choice in Home Care measure was implemented on 27 February 2017.
From 27 February 2017 all home care packages have been provided to individual consumers rather than the previous method where home care packages were awarded to approved providers under an allocation process.
This change now gives consumers the ability to choose their provider and to direct the Government subsidy to that provider. This means that consumers can change their provider if they wish, including if they move to another area to live.
Increasing Choice also introduced a national prioritisation process for access to home care. The national prioritisation process means a fairer, national way of allocating home care based on people’s individual needs and circumstances and the time they have waited for care.
These changes are an important step in moving towards a future aged care system that is more:
- less regulated.
The changes also lay the platform for future aged care reforms, which will be guided by the Aged Care Sector Committee Roadmap for Reform and jointly developed with the sector.
Research and evaluation
The department commissioned independent research to evaluate the experiences and perceptions of home care package consumers and service providers since the introduction of the Increasing Choice in Home Care reforms on 27 February 2017.
Research was conducted in August and September 2017.
Key findings from consumers include:
- High satisfaction (80% or above) with: the services they receive, the services matching these expectations, and their general standard and suitability. Specifically, 85% of consumers were satisfied with the standard of services they received.
- Close to half of participants recorded using the My Aged Care Contact Centre, a printed brochure/booklet and/or information provided by a service provider to help them set up services
- Information was well received, and around 80% were satisfied with the information received from the My Aged Care Contact Centre, printed resources developed by the department and information on the My Aged Care website.
- The wait time experienced by participants before they were assigned a package was usually seen as satisfactory (74%)
- A majority (65%) of participants indicated satisfaction with the amount of time they had to make a decision about which provider would deliver the services.
- Almost two thirds (65%) indicated satisfaction with the funding allocation for home care packages.
- The likelihood of changing providers was extremely low, with 7% giving a positive response, and more than half (58%) not at all likely to do so. This was due to satisfaction with current services (85%) and/or that they liked the workers delivering their services (76%).
A majority of home care package providers (55%) were satisfied with the information provided by the department before 27 February.
Representatives of home care package providers felt that their organisation had adjusted reasonably well to the changes, including by:
- adapting to the systems and processes of the new model (58%), and
- making changes to their work force or work model (59%).
Home care package providers were also positive about changes to their organisation’s service delivery, with:
- 59% considering offering packages in new locations, and
- 61% now offering new package levels.
In mid-2016, the department undertook research involving providers and consumers about recent and future changes in home care. The research report outlines the findings from in-depth interviews with a small sample of home care providers and consumers about the:
- delivery of home care using a consumer directed care (CDC) model
- introduction of the Increasing Choice in Home Care measure from 27 February 2017.
Note: Careful consideration should be taken when interpreting the findings due to the small sample size and qualitative methodology used in this research. These findings represent a point in time snapshot of provider and consumer behaviour.
In April 2014, KPMG was engaged by the Government to conduct an evaluation of the implementation and operational effectiveness of the Home Care Packages Program and Consumer Directed Care, including applicability in residential aged care. The following three reports provide the outcomes from the evaluation process:
- The Formative evaluation of the Home Care Packages Program – Detailed findings report (April 2015) provides a range of findings on the effectiveness of the program’s implementation, processes and structures.
- The Formative evaluation of the Home Care Packages Program – Policy considerations paper (June 2015) explores policy issues and provides associated considerations for the Government.
- The Applicability of Consumer Directed Care principles in residential aged care homes final report (July 2014) outlines the findings of initial research in ascertaining the suitability of CDC approaches in residential aged care settings in Australia.
A discussion paper on the first stage of the Increasing Choice measure was made available (through engage.dss.gov.au) for public consultation in late September 2015. A total of 101 submissions were received from a range of stakeholders. Feedback from stakeholders was used to inform the policy framework, the legislative amendments and the business requirements for IT system changes. A summary report of the key issues and feedback received from stakeholders during the consultations is available.
Video recordings and slides of previous Increasing Choice in Home Care webinars are available for viewing.
Specific enquiries about reform of the Home Care Package Program can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Approved providers should direct questions about the Home Care Packages Program to the My Aged Care providers contact centre on 1800 836 799.