The Increasing Choice in Home Care reforms will be introduced on the 27th February 2017 and will change the way Home Care Packages (HCP) are allocated and managed. In this episode, Carrie and Kell discuss what the changes will mean for both consumers and the organisations who support them.

There are four main changes:

  1. The Home Care Package (HCP) will follow the consumer
  2. Consumers will be assessed at a HCP level 1, 2, 3 or 4 – they will no longer be banded
  3. There will be a national pool of packages and a national wait list
  4. The process of becoming an Approved Provider will be streamlined

What do these changes mean?

Funding follows the consumer:

  • All unfilled packages will be returned to a national pool – while this can have negative impacts it will also have benefits as it may have the potential to decrease wait lists in some areas
  • The package is attached to the consumer rather than the organisation and increases the portability of the package for the consumer with both long and short term relocations
  • Consumers can choose which Approved Provider they want to ‘manage their package’
  • Consumers can request services from providers outside the established arrangements that the Approved Provider has in place if this is their desire. For example, they may have an existing relationship with a cleaner and wish to continue to use their services
  • Any unspent funds will move with the consumer. This will have benefits for individuals where they choose to take their package to another area or to another provider

Package levels will no longer be ‘banded’:

  • No longer will people be assessed at a banded 1-2 or 3-4
  • ACAT will assign 1, 2, 3 or 4 based on assessed needs
  • Those individuals who have already been assessed at a banded level will be automatically assigned the higher level. Therefore, if they are currently assessed at level 1-2, on the 27th February 2017 they will be identified as eligible for a level 2 HCP

The National Pool and National Wait List:

  • All unfilled packages and packages that are no longer required by the consumer will be returned to a National HCP Pool
  • Allocation of a HCP will be Managed by My Aged Care according to the National Wait List. This will make wait list times more equitable across the country
  • Consumers will be prioritised based on their:
    • Relative needs
    • Circumstances
    • Time they have been waiting for care

The process for becoming an Approved Provider will become more streamlined:

  • The process for an organisation to become an AP will be a lot simpler and focus on the ability of the organisation to provide quality care
  • Residential Care providers and Flexi care providers can ‘opt in’ and become home care providers:
    • They won’t have to go through the full application process
    • This will support an end-to-end care approach

The impact of changes on the organisation:

  • Many remote services who are providing support to high care needs clients wanting to live on community will receive appropriate funding – e.g. most remote services are currently limited to level 2 packages, this will change as consumers transition across to their assessed level.
  • Note: many organisations in remote areas don’t think they can provide level 4 but this is not true (often they already are)
    • They have access to Clinics and nursing staff, podiatrists, physiotherapists etc through either private or Government Health services – don’t necessarily need to employ a nurse or health professional to meet an individual’s needs
    • Just because a person is a level 4 doesn’t mean high care ‘nursing’ it might mean additional personal care support or increased observation requirements.
    • Organisations need to look at the assessed needs of the individual and see how they can work collaboratively to support that person
  • Any unfilled packages will be returned to the National Pool on Feb 27th 2017, therefore it is important to ensure all assessments are completed in a timely manner and unfilled packages allocated if possible.
  • Staffing levels may fluctuate as consumers come and go from organisations. Organisations may need to consider a stronger casual workforce to back up the provision of quality care.
  • There is no monopoly, even in remote areas – don’t think you have it all your own way, outside organisations may seek to take up the opportunity to provide care and support in your area or community. It’s about the consumer, not the organisation.

For more information on the Introduction to Home Care Changes visit the Dept. of Health website.

This podcast is the first part in a series that we are doing in the run up the February 2017 changes that seek to prepare you and your organisation ahead of time.

Next episode we’ll look at busting some of the myths around the changes and hopefully put people’s minds at ease.

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Carrie and Kell

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