Mark February 27 in your calendar now – it’s the date in theory you or your mum or dad will be given more control over your home care.
The Government is implementing a policy called Consumer Directed Care – or CDC. The $4 billion it pays out each year in home care will be swapped around – it will be allocated to individuals – you – rather than home care providers to spend on you.
In theory you will now choose the provider that suits you for help with shopping and transport, cleaning and gardening or showering, dressing and nursing care.
If you would like one provider for say help in showering but another to help you with shopping, you can. Sounds good, but is this the way it will work?
More choice, in time
The Government’s objective is to create competition to deliver you more choice, better service and lower costs (for the Government). But that competition will take time to build and there are obvious concerns about releasing $4 billion straight into consumer hands.
To ease the system in and keep some control the government is installing an interim stage. While the packages are being allocated to individuals the government is leaving it with the approved operators to manage those packages (in effect manage the money).
This means your existing package provider will receive the money and you tell them where you want it spent. You can use all their services or you can tell them you want to use some services from another provider.
They will manage the paperwork and the payments for you. They will also charge you an administration fee for doing this – which you can negotiate.
Someone has to also oversee your care plan and this will likely be your package manager.
A major benefit will be that you will see, perhaps for the first time, how much is being paid by the government for each hour of help you are receiving. The idea is you can negotiate for a better rate which means you can get more care hours from the same government allocation of money to you.
More competition for clients
And there will be competition. The existing package providers won’t want to lose the customers they have and new service providers will come in with lower overhead costs or concentration on small geographic areas, offering you deals.
While there are different package rates in different states the money can be considerable. The top level can be over $52,000 a year in government funding to help you.
Last year 133 new home care providers applied to the Department of Health for approval to operate, while a similar number closed down with changing market conditions.
Our advice? Start talking to your existing home care provider now and ask what is the best deal they can provide you personally. Remember, it may not be a straight financial deal but maybe rearranging your schedule to better suit your lifestyle.
With further freeing up of the system and new technology you can expect even more control and freedom by about 2019/20.