Home | Industry & Reform | Home care plan released, experts warn system is ‘failing’

Home care plan released, experts warn system is ‘failing’

Correction: the first edition of this article claimed that the new home care system will "adopt a centrally regulated market model" which is inaccurate.

An overview of the federal government’s reform plan for home care has been published, giving an insight into what home care will soon look like in Australia.

The Support At Home Overview Paper, released earlier this month, details the integration of the current Commonwealth Home Support Programme and Home Care Package Program in July 2023.

Service providers will be paid on a fee-for-service basis, according to the paper.

“A point of delivery payment platform is being developed to enable providers to receive payments in real time, from both government and senior Australians,” the paper read.

“The platform would also assist in capturing information from providers about service delivery and their clients, automating reporting on service provision.”

The new program will also not allow older people to accrue unspent funds, the paper said.

“If a person goes on holiday and does not require their cleaning services, the provider would not receive payment for them, and the senior Australian would not accrue their entitlement,” it read.

According to accounting specialists, there is currently over a billion dollars in unspent funds sitting in Home Care Packages (HSP).

With the government’s shift to payment for home care in arrears, these funds will now sit with Services Australia.

A new home care support service for senior Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is also expected to be unveiled by this year.

Face-to-face support will be offered in a bid to improve access to care for Indigenous communities, which will include the creation of a single, specialised assessment system carried out by local organisations.

“The department is looking to co-design the model with Aboriginal community-controlled organisations from across Australia,” the paper read.

“The new service is expected to commence in early 2022 in a staged roll-out and offer employment to around 250 Indigenous Australians nationally.”

Home care remains ‘shambolic’, experts say

A major report from the Grattan Institute has criticised the government’s home care reform plan, calling for increased funding and improved design.

The report, titled Unfinished business: Practical Policies for Better Care at Home, gave an overview of the current issues facing the system.

“The aged care system is failing many older Australians, and home care remains shambolic," says report lead author and Grattan Institute Health and Aged Care Program Director Stephen Duckett.

“Despite committing more than $2.44 billion of additional funding each year to home care places, the Government’s response leaves unfinished business.”

The paper highlighted that the government had not committed to reducing wait times for home care to less than a month, and had no plan to boost pay and conditions for staff.

According to Duckett, more regional services need to be established in order to meet the growing demands for local, personalised forms of care.

“Our report shows how more money and better design could give Australians more dignity and better care in their old age,” he said.

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One comment

  1. Pamela Jayne Mulholland

    It’s true that the older person on a Home Care Package won’t be able to accrue their entitlement, but neither will they be required to contribute to a service they don’t receive, as they do now with the daily fee of around $10 per day minimum, 365 days a year. Large items that need purchasing and genuinely relate to the persons frailty or disability, (unlike we see now, where HCP funds are used to purchase all sorts of things that have no bearing on the persons entitlements, just to use up unspent funds) will be funded separately as required.
    I would urge everyone to look at the ‘Support at Home Alliance’ design paper as a far more suitable model for the future than this overview.

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