This week’s podcast looks at some of the common misconceptions that are linked to the Home Care Package reforms and in particular the Increasing Choices in Home Care. Listen in as Carrie and Kell discuss what these are and attempt to put the record straight.
Myth #1 – From February 27th 2017 the consumer can opt to have package funds deposited directly into their account to manage their own care.
Truth: Packages are linked to a consumer; however, they do not handle their funds themselves. The consumer needs to take their package to an Approved Provider to manage on their behalf.
Myth #2 – Consumers can take their package to anyone to manage on their behalf.
Truth: Consumers can only take their packages to an Approved Provider of Home Care Packages.
Myth #3 – Consumers will ‘bunny hop’ between providers at the drop of a hat, resulting in decreased organisational sustainability in some areas and fluctuations in staff requirements.
Truth: The charging of exit fees when consumer change providers will act as a deterrent to frequent changes of service providers.
Consumers also have a responsibility to inform their service provider if they intend changing providers prior to entering into an arrangement with a new provider.
Consumers also will need to activate their referral on My Aged Care for another provider to accept them onto their program.
These last two points should minimise ‘spur of the moment’ decisions from being acted on and allow a service provider to discuss both the implications of a change and the reason for the change with the consumer.
Myth #4 – As long as it is identified in their care plan, consumers can use their package funds to pay for items such as fridges, televisions and air-conditioners as these items will make their lives better.
Truth: There are a number of items that are considered to be ‘Excluded Items’, these are listed in the Home Care Package Operational Manual (December 2015). Even where this is listed in the person’s care plan it may need to be something that the consumer will need to save up and pay for from personal funds.
Any ‘additional’ items that are requested by a consumer need to match their assessed needs and the purchase should not impact negatively on their essential service needs.
Where there is a request for an item that you are not quite sure about you’ll need to ensure you show clear consideration of the item or service and the reasoning behind any decision. This should be documented clearly.
Myth #5 – When a client exits the program (dies or no longer needs a Home Care Package) any unspent funds can be used to support other clients waiting for a package.
Truth: All unspent funds need to be returned to either the Commonwealth Government or to the consumer’s estate.
Myth #6 – A consumer who has had their client contribution fee waived is not paying anything toward their care.
Truth: Consumers may not be paying any additional fee for their care, over and above the recovery cost for their meal, however, they are considered to be paying for their care through their package. This needs to be reflected in their client agreement.
Myth #7 – Anyone who has been approved for a higher-level package will automatically be moved to the higher package on the 27th February 2017. Eg. From a level 2 to a level 4 HCP.
Truth: Unfortunately, a person won’t automatically be assigned a higher-level package on the 27th Feb 2017 however, if they are already receiving care at a lower package level they will automatically go on the National Queue.
There will be no additional packages released on the 27th of February, although additional packages will be released and added to the National Package Inventory over time and therefore, potentially decreasing the wait time for a higher level package for individuals.
The National Package Inventory will be made up of all current packages whether used or unused at the 26th Feb. The Government will be releasing new Home Care Packages over time and these will be added to the National Package Inventory.
Any packages that are not attached to consumers on the 27th February will be returned to the National Package Inventory (National Pool) and will be distributed out to consumers in the queue.
All claims for Home Care Package payment will continue to be made through the Department of Human Services Aged Care Payment System – Medicare.