Home | Industry+Policy | Making sense of it all: home care packages under the microscope

Making sense of it all: home care packages under the microscope

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 He told the newspapers that nearly a third of providers do not publish their pricing online, as is their legal requirement.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.

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4 comments

  1. There is also a high turnover of staff because some home care providers have no clinical experience and their business is purely profit making. Which results in over promising the consumer to sign them up and I deliver due to health and safety risks of the staff , which include manual handling and unsafe work hours. Eg 24 hr shifts with little or no sleep for the carer. This should be looked into on the Sunshine Coast Queensland especially with new providers popping up everywhere.

  2. Shame the study was conducted on 40 people out of 90,000 home care packages. Not really a good representation of the market across Australia

  3. I visit a 93 year old, who clearly understands what is happening around her. She is in residential care, with other people who have a variety of illnesses, including dementia. She has all her senses facilities, except fher hearing is going, along with her eyesight. She is in care due to her husband passing away approx 9 years ago, has no family in Australia at all. She continued to live in the unit she shared with her husband until his death. Prior to going into residential care, she fell a couple of times and was taken to hospital. It was decided that in her best interests and health care that she could no longer live at home.

    The other clients/residential care patients, quite often wander into her room, get into her bed, take items from her room, (they are not aware of what they are doing). This causes her some stress. She is able to walk (shuffle) to the dining room for meals, can shower and dress herself.

    The carers who look after her in this aged care facility; I do not think some of them have clinical qualifications as they possibly should to look after our senior citizens.

    Thank you

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