Home Care Reforms

Page last updated: 13 July 2017
Fact sheet
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The Australian Government is improving the way home care services are delivered to older Australians. These changes are important for a sustainable and quality aged care system that is more consumer driven, market based and less regulated.

On 27 February 2017, home care packages changed in three main ways:

1. Funding follows the consumer

Clients are able to choose and direct package funding to a provider that best meets their needs and goals. Once in care, they can change their provider and any unspent home care amount (less any exit amount) will follow them to their new home care provider, even if they move to another area to live. Home care providers now have the opportunity to expand their business to meet local demand and client expectations.

2. Accessing a home care package

There is a nationally consistent process for home care packages to be assigned to older Australians based on how long they have been waiting for care and their individual needs and circumstances. This allows for a more equitable distribution of packages, regardless of where the consumer lives.

3. Reduced red-tape for providers

The process for becoming an approved provider has been streamlined. Approved provider status commences as soon as approval is given by the Department of Health, and no longer lapses. Home Care approved providers are no longer required to participate in the Aged Care Approval Round (ACAR) for home care places as home care packages are assigned to the consumer. Providers of other care types such as residential or flexible care, still need to participate in the ACAR for these care types.

Client’s already in care will continue to receive homecare package services and will see no changes to:

  • The current fee and income testing arrangements;
  • Home care subsidy and supplements being paid to approved providers;
  • Claims and payments made through the Department of Human Services; and
  • Quality and accreditation standards of home care providers.

Overview of key changes

Changes from 27 February 2017…

Replacing previous arrangements where….

Funding for a home care package follows the client, allowing them to direct funding to the provider of their choice.

Home care places were allocated to Approved Providers of home care through the Aged Care Approvals Round (ACAR).

Clients can change providers and any unspent home care amount (less any exit amount) will be transferred to their new home care provider.

Home care packages were not portable as the places were allocated to an approved provider and any unspent package funds were retained by the provider.

Aged Care Assessment Teams approve clients for home care at a specific package level –1, 2, 3 or 4.

Consumers were approved for home care in broad bands – level 1/2 or level 3/4.

A new national process for assigning home care packages to eligible clients managed by My Aged Care.

Eligible consumers needed to find a provider with an available home care package. This could cause significant variation in waiting periods for packages across Australia, with no systematic way of addressing the variation.

The process for becoming an approved provider is streamlined and focussed on the ability of the organisation to deliver quality care.

There were 53 mandatory criteria that needed to be considered in assessing each application, which applicants found time-consuming and difficult to address.

Approved provider status no longer lapses after two years.

Approved provider status lapsed after two years if the provider did not hold an allocation of places.

Approved providers can adjust the services they offer to meet demand across different service areas and home care package levels and no longer need to apply for home care places through an ACAR.

Approved providers were restricted to the number of home care places they were allocated through an ACAR.

Further information

Visit the department’s website or email agedcarereformenquiries@health.gov.au.

Join our email list to receive regular e-newsletters and announcements to the aged care sector.

This fact sheet provides general guidance to support the Home Care Packages Program. It does not constitute legal advice, nor is it a substitute for responsibilities under the legislative framework.