In Home Care Government Changes

by KinCare — 13 April 2017

As a consumer, you have a choice between which products, services or providers you use. Thankfully, older Australians now have greater freedom than ever before to choose a home care provider and the services received. This is due to the recent Increasing Choice in Home Care reforms, which were brought in by the government on 27th February 2017.

These reforms have been designed to give you far more choice and control over your home care. The new system is more flexible, cost-effective, and fairer but significant reforms like these can cause uncertainty if not explained properly.

Our aim at KinCare is to help you understand these changes that have been brought in, and detail what they mean for you.

If you’d like to talk directly with an expert about aged home care or the recent Increasing Choice in Home Care reforms, please get in touch with KinCare now.

What are the major changes under the home care reforms?

Whatever your needs, the government subsidises the cost of a wide range of clinical care, personal care, and support services to assist with day-to-day living. Before these reforms, home care packages were awarded to approved care providers under an allocation process. So, you didn’t have a real choice over which home care provider would be assigned to you or the level of services you’d receive.

These new reforms have brought in four major changes to home care.

  1. You now have more choice and flexibility. You control the selection of your home care provider, completely replacing the old allocation process. In addition, you now have the flexibility to change your home care provider as your needs or circumstances change.
  2. Home care is now provided in a much fairer way. After a successful application, your Home care package is now assigned based not just on the length of time you’ve waited for care, but also on your individual care needs and personal circumstances. This is the same for everyone, regardless of where you may be located in Australia.
  3. You can now accrue unspent funds that are left over from your package after any expenses and fees have been deducted. This means that if you change home care provider these unspent funds will be transferred to your new one.
  4. There are now potential exit fees to pay home care providers if you decide to change to a new one. This fee is only payable if it has been included in your Home Care Agreement and will be deducted from any unspent funds. However, some home care providers, like us at KinCare, choose to waive this exit fee for our customers.

Thanks to the Increasing Choice in Home Care reforms, you are changing home care for the better. Home care providers now respond to your increased control by offering exactly the right care package you require as an individual. That’s why providers with experience and a strong sense of commitment to all their customers are best placed to deliver quality home care services.

What happens to existing home care customers if they switch provider?

If you are happy with your current provider, you are not obligated to change. You will simply continue receiving care and services at your current package level.

But these new reforms give you the power to change your home care provider if you want. Crucially, they allow your package funding to follow you to whichever provider you choose. This means a home care package is yours until you no longer need it. However, if you’re thinking of changing providers, you need to be aware of two factors.

  1. You should find out the amount of your unspent home care fund. This is the remaining fund after all expenses and fees have been paid from your package. The amount left may influence your decision on which care provider to choose, and it’s vital to find out what this may mean for you.
  2. Unlike KinCare, some providers deduct a newly introduced exit fee when you change or leave home care. If it is stated in your Home Care Agreement, they may deduct an exit amount from your unspent home care funds. (A provider’s exit fees must be displayed on the My Aged Care website.) As maximum exit fees have been reported as running as high as $4000, it’s important to find out exactly what your situation is, before you choose another provider.

Will the changes have an impact on new home care customers?

Despite the recent reforms, the home care qualification process and the different levels of care available have remained the same. An Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT) will still assess a person applying for home care. This team will determine whether a person is eligible, and which of the four package levels best meets their care needs. They are:

Level 1 – Basic care needs
Level 2 – Low-level care needs
Level 3 – Intermediate care needs
Level 4 – High-level care needs

The allocation of home care for people will continue to be based on the priority given to their needs by ACAT. This means that those who have waited the longest and are in greatest need of home care assistance will be first in line with providers.

Subsidies for home care will continue to work as they did before. There will still be a rising subsidy amount that’s increased as the package level rises and this will be paid directly to your home care provider. Subsidies received for care are an important part of your payment process. However, you are still expected to contribute towards home care costs, where your personal circumstances allow.

Anyone who has been approved by the Aged Care Assessment Team since July 1st 2016 will have been automatically signed up to this new national queue for home care packages. Anyone who was approved for home care before this date will have to opt in to the queue independently – through the Government website

When you reach the top of the queue and a suitable package becomes available, it will be assigned to you through My Aged Care. Once the package has been assigned to you, you can choose the provider that best suits your needs.

Will the changes impact the home care services available to you?

There are a huge number of home care services available, including but not limited to: assistance with personal activities, meal preparation, the use of incontinence aids and appliances, mobility and dexterity issues, transport, skin management, nursing and much more.

As providers face tougher competition in light of the reforms, they have to offer you more. Since home care packages can be tailored to your exact needs, you now have a far greater variety of services available. This will increase the number of home care services each provider has available and improve the overall quality of each service.

A new frontier of home care awaits you

All in all, the Increasing Choice in Home Care reforms brought in by the Australian Government are hugely significant for people requiring home care. The reforms have served to benefit you, by handing you total control over your home care provider and the day-to-day services they offer.

Home care providers now have to address this new freedom you have and increase the quality of their services accordingly. While an exit fee is something to be considered for certain providers, KinCare has chosen to waive this for its home care customers and instead focus on delivering an outstanding service.

If you are an elderly person who requires in-home care support, learn more about how KinCare can help you by visiting our Aged Care page.