The Australian government is changing Home Care Packages to provide older Australians greater choice and control over their care, as well as to better match available packages to consumer demand.
Personal care, housekeeping tasks, nursing, and allied health services are provided as part of the home care packages in Sydney, allowing elderly Australians to remain at home.
Home care packages are provided to persons over the age of 65 who require a high level of care. If you’re under 65 and have a lot of care needs, you might be qualified for personal assistance services that might help you stay at home.
Reforms needed to offer more choice and flexibility
The government has introduced new reforms for the home care packages, and these were much needed. The reforms were designed to provide consumers with more choice and flexibility in the delivery of their services, which included the introduction of consumer-directed care.
Consumer-directed care arrangements allow individuals to purchase additional services from their provider at an agreed rate above their basic package. Consumer-directed care can be used to purchase routine health services such as dental, occupational therapy or physiotherapy that are not covered under a home care package in Sydney or for respite or personal assistance outside of the hours of a normal home care provision.
More choice and flexibility for consumers
New pricing arrangements
The Home Care Packages Program also introduced new pricing arrangements for providers and agencies who choose not to deliver packages directly. These arrangements take effect from 1 February 2016:
The department implemented the reforms in two stages-
The department implemented the reforms in two stages in February 2015 (stage 1) and July 2015 (stage 2).
- Stage 2 of the reform package saw a new pricing arrangement for home care packages take effect. This pricing arrangement meant more people were able to get a publicly funded package with $10 per hour of care, regardless of their age or location. The department also simplified rules around how people could use their private income to pay for their home care packages. These changes are expected to help more people access the support they need at home, especially those living in regional areas who may have previously had difficulty accessing services due to out-of-pocket costs associated with non-government options such as personal assistants or nursing homes.
- In stage 1, the department changed how much it paid providers for delivering specific activities under a fully funded hourly rate method that reflected actual costs involved in delivering those activities rather than using historical benchmarks. This change increased efficiency within the sector by removing unnecessary administrative work associated with reporting on historical benchmarks while still maintaining adequate funding levels across all activities included in each package type so providers can continue providing quality services without having to increase prices unnecessarily due only to higher levels of demand than expected during initial years after reform implementation
Reforms that have recently been implemented
Improving the availability of pricing information for home care services
- Home care providers must now publish their price information on the My Aged Care website as of July 1, 2019.
Data reports for the Home Care Packages Program are now available.
- The Home Care Packages Program is updated in these quarterly reports. Statistics on assessments, approvals, services, and persons waiting for services are included.
The Department of Health is due to report to the Government on the effectiveness of the reforms in early 2017. The findings of this report, and any further policy directions, will be considered as part of the development of new aged care arrangements.