With the 27th February 2017 deadline looming, established aged care providers should look around them to see who else is positioning themselves to offer Home Care Package management and support in their region.

Will you work with Approved Providers or become an Approved Provider?

It has been interesting to note that over the past couple of months, we have been contacted by a couple of organisations seeking help to register as an Approved Provider. Around Australia, we are seeing organisations who currently only hold Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP) funding, as well as organisations who do not currently hold any aged care funding (such as disability organisations or Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) organisations) putting their hand up to become Approved Providers.

These businesses and associations already have established links to older people in their community, but have not operated as a package provider for various reasons; perhaps it was because of the complexity of becoming an Approved Provider or the small client base in their particular location. However, the introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and the latest Home Care Package (HCP) reforms are shifting the playing field. It is becoming easier to apply for Approved Provider status, and of course individual consumers will be able to take their package to the Approved Provider of their choice.

These changes are making aged care increasingly attractive to would-be new providers; especially with a potential increase in available funding for individuals assessed at a higher level in rural and remote settings,[1] and the introduction of individualised support plans and funding for those eligible for the NDIS.

These organisations will be the new kids on the block. They will be your competitors or your collaborators – it’s up to you to decide which one.

So what is the benefit of collaboration with new providers?

  • You don’t have to be the expert in every area. Perhaps the new organisation has specialised skill sets that you don’t have.

For example, if your core business is personal care maybe you can partner with organisations that specialise in culturally appropriate activities. If you are a small organisation struggling with meeting the requirements of Consumer Directed Care Budgets and Statements consider subcontracting under an Approved Provider who can manage this aspect of the programme.

  • You can support transient clients better.

For example, many older indigenous clients like to travel from one community or location to another to visit family and to participate in cultural activities. By partnering with other service providers you can support individuals to continue to receive care and support during their absence from your community.

  • They often have the cultural knowledge that your organisation or staff do not have.

For example, a Serbian social club may have no or little knowledge of specialist aged care services, however, they do have people who speak the language of the consumer and may understand their goals and needs better. 

  • They may have an established and strong relationship with their consumer group. This is especially true for organisations operating CHSP or for those providing brokered services.

For example, I was discussing the upcoming changes with a coordinator whose service currently only provides CHSP in their location, although as a member of a larger organisation they already have Approved Provider status. The coordinator noted that a number of their existing clients have been assessed as eligible for a package but have declined to move to another provider. This service is well positioned to commence delivering Home Care Packages from February 27th 2017.

  • New Approved Providers, particularly those from the disability sector, often come to the table with a very different mindset to traditional health or aged care providers. This lack of fixed attitudes or different core ideals can be an advantage under the new model of care and support, where meeting the individual goals and aspirations of the consumer is very much in the foreground.

What if your organisation wants to become an Approved Provider?

What if you are wanting to be one of those ‘new kids', one of those organisations considering whether you should be moving into the aged care sector?

If you are an organisation who is not currently providing support to people receiving a Home Care Package, you can take advantage of the changes. The question is, are you prepared?

  • Do you have your Approved Provider status?
  • Do you understand the requirements of delivering Home Care Packages under a Consumer Directed Care arrangement?
  • Are you set up to develop individual consumer budgets and monthly statements?
  • Have you identified potential clients who may wish to bring their package to you for management?
  • Have you informed current CHSP or brokerage clients that they can bring their package to you for management from February 27th next year?
  • Have you prepared your staff for the change and equipped them with information that will allow them to become your advocates?
  • Who should you be looking to collaborate with?
  • Is it the right choice for your organisation or would you be better off providing brokered services?

Becoming an Approved Provider may have become easier, but running a quality aged care service hasn't.

Remember if you want to be ready to operate in the new playing field you should be preparing your organisation and your staff. Read more about getting your organisation ready for the changes in our blog post ‘Increasing choice in home care – avoiding organisational meltdown‘.

[1] Approved Providers in most rural and remote settings have primarily held level 2 packages only. This has resulted in consumers being restricted to the lower level package and funding, irrespective of their assessed level. {Click here to return.}

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