Revelations this week from a leaked report commissioned by Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt show that providers are charging “obscene” fees for home care packages.
The Nine Publishing newspapers revealed that in some instances, providers are charging half of their fees in admin costs or case management.
The research, conducted by Dr Sarah Russell, found that in one example a provider charged over $600 in case management and admin fees for one service valued at $130.22.
The study found large differentials in the hourly rates for support workers – between $39 and $61 – and also found that when a provider took a bigger chunk of the home-care package funds, “some participants received less than 10 hours of personal/domestic support on a Level 4 home care package”.
Minister Wyatt responded to the claims that the home-care system lacked transparency. He told the newspapers that nearly a third of providers do not publish their pricing online, as is their legal requirement.
Dr Russell’s report also highlighted the problem people have in understanding the current system. One research participant told her that:
“We didn’t understand the statement. Nobody explained. We asked the case manager to explain. She couldn’t understand it either. Our granddaughters who are studying at university couldn’t even understand. It was very confusing.”
Researchers at the University of South Australia, Dr Braam Lowies and Dr Rob Whait, found similar problems in their study of the ability of over 65s to navigate the financials of the home-care system.
“Our research found that older people felt insecure about their capacity to manage home-care packages to their best advantage and we wanted to understand why,” Dr Lowies said.
“We found a host of problems from a general lack confidence and lack of knowledge of the system among older people, to overly complicated communications, high staff turnover and inadequately trained staff providing in-home care, inconsistencies in package administration, confusing fee structures and even inaccurate billing processes.”
Aged Care Insite spoke with Lowies and Whait to find out why home care is so complicated.Do you have an idea for a story?
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