Increasing Choice in Home Care for Providers – Stage 1 transition – what is changing and what you need to know
The Australian Government is making changes to home care to improve the way that services are delivered to older Australians. The home care reforms recognise that older people want to remain living at home for longer.
Stage 1 of the reforms, announced by the Government in the 2015 Budget, forms a broader part of the Government’s response to the 2011 Productivity Commission report ‘Caring for Older Australians’. The Commission found the aged care system suffers from key weaknesses, including a high regulatory burden for providers, lack of timely access to care, and limited consumer choice.
The Government will look to further simplify the way that services are delivered and funded in Stage 2, expected to commence from July 2018.
From 27 February 2017 home care packages will change in three main ways.
Home care package funding will follow the consumer, replacing the current system where home care places are allocated to an approved provider through the Aged Care Approval Round (ACAR). This will give consumers greater choice and control over their care if they move locations or want to choose another provider. The Department of Health will be providing more information on these changes and who is affected closer to February 2017.
There will also be a consistent national approach to prioritising access to home care with packages assigned to eligible consumers from a national pool managed through My Aged Care. This will allow for a fairer and more flexible distribution of packages to consumers based on their individual needs, regardless of where they live.
The process for becoming an approved provider will be streamlined including:
- Providers will no longer need to apply for home care places through the ACAR or be limited by the number of allocated home care places.
- Existing residential and flexible care providers can elect to ‘opt in’ to provide home care services, further reducing red tape and administration in applying to become an approved provider of home care.
- Approved provider status will no longer lapse after two years if the provider does not hold an allocation of places.
- Changes to approved provider arrangements will apply across home care, residential care and flexible care.
These changes will create a more flexible, consumer-driven home care system to encourage innovation in the marketplace, reduce red tape and support older Australians to have more choice and control over their care.
What will not change
While there seems to be a lot of changes being made to home care packages, a number of things will not change. Below is a summary:
- There will be no change to the current fee and income testing arrangements for consumers.
- Home care subsidy and supplements will still be paid to the approved provider.
- Packages will continue to be delivered on a consumer directed care basis.
- Claims and payments will still be made through the Department of Human Services Aged Care Payment System.
- Approved providers must continue to meet relevant quality and accreditation standards.
- The total number of home care packages across the country will still be capped.
Activities are underway to support the sector to be ready for 27 February 2017. These include holding workshops, presenting at conferences and distributing information through updates to the website, email messages and small group consultations. More information on the changes will continue to be provided throughout 2016, to help providers, consumers and other important groups in the aged care sector to understand the new arrangements and prepare for the changes.
If you haven’t already done so, make sure you are set up correctly on the My Aged Care portal to connect with assessors and consumers. Further information about setting up your business in the portal can be found on the My Aged Care for service providers webpage.
Further information about the home care reforms, including consultation and sector engagement activities, will be regularly updated on the Increasing Choice in Home Care webpage.
It is also important to subscribe to the Department’s electronic information updates (email and newsletter) to ensure you receive important programme updates and information about sector briefings and events. To subscribe go to www.dss.gov.au/agedcareupdates.
Enquiries can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.