Have your say on proposed new home care plan

Govt to pull the plug on home care packages

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CHANGE: A new support program will replace current home-based aged care. Photo: Shutterstock.

CHANGE: A new support program will replace current home-based aged care. Photo: Shutterstock.

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Plans to dump Home Care Packages in 2022.

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The federal government plans to dump its controversial Home Care Package Program along with the Commonwealth Home Support Program next year.

A new Support at Home Program will be introduced in July 2023 to provide aged care services to Australians in their own homes.

The new program will replace the two programs, as well as the Short Term Restorative Care Program and residential respite programs, and is in response to the final report of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety which was highly critical of the home care sector making a number of recommendations to improve the care of older Australians.

The current system has also been roundly criticised by older consumers, families, academics and advocates as unwieldy, overly complicated, unresponsive to needs, expensive and inefficient.

Consultation

The Support at Home Program is being developed in consultation with senior Australians and community stakeholders; and Government published details about the proposed new program say it "will mean better-targeted services for over one million senior Australians who are now receiving home care or residential respite services".

The consultation will look at:

  • aged care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
  • the assessment model
  • care management (including self-management)
  • the service list, price list and funding model
  • goods equipment, assistive technologies and home modifications
  • the evaluation framework

There is a summary document available which compares the current in-home aged care programs with the proposed Support at Home program.

Senior Australians and their families and carers can also access a more detailed Support at Home Program Overviewpaper that outlines what the program design could look like including assessment, services, funding arrangements, care management/self-management and support for special cohorts.

The consultation process will take place during 2022. A consultation calendar is included in the overview paper and people can sign up to get involved in this and other aged care reform engagement activities on the Department of Health's Ageing and Aged Care Engagement Hub.

In response to questions from The Senior the Department of Health said consultations had been booked with consumers who have nominated their interest through the online engagement hub.

A planning process is also underway to develop an approach to reach a broader group of consumers, including those without computer access, said a spokesman.

This planning process involves seeking advice from the Government's newly formed Council of Elders on how to best engage consumers; meetings with consumer peak bodies including National Seniors and the Older Person's Advocacy Network (OPAN); and direct discussions with several consumer representatives who participate on departmental advisory committees and often share feedback from a broad network of aged care consumers.

Dedicated phone number

There are also plans for a dedicated 1800 number to allow clients to participate in surveys relating to the new Support at Home program.

Geoff Rowe from Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN) said the organisation wanted to encourage seniors to participate in the consultation and provide their lived experience of the current care system and their thoughts on what would make it better.

He called for the Government to be transparent on what it was going to do. "It's really important to invest in a good system that supports people at home. People want to age at home."

Opan's Older Persons Reference Group, which is made up of older Australians from across Australia will be looking at the proposed changes and OPAN will be making submissions during the consultation process.

It's really important to invest in a good system that supports people at home. People want to age at home. - Geoff Rowe OPAN

Ian Henschke from National Seniors Australia said the organisation was advocating for "a simple, easy to use system that gives people the care and support they need, when they need it".

"The redesign of the system must also not lose the elements that are working well, such as the community care programs operated through the Commonwealth Home Support Program.

"The Royal Commission recommended people should not be left waiting for care. People should be able to easily transition to levels of support as their needs increase without having jump through bureaucratic hoops. And the delivery of services such as home care should be efficient to ensure maximum value for older people."

HOME CARE: How people are assessed for support will be looked at. Photo: Shutterstock.

HOME CARE: How people are assessed for support will be looked at. Photo: Shutterstock.

Paul Versteege from Combined Pensioners and Superannuants Association said it was hoped the new Support at Home program would be structured along the lines of the CHSP, "which is responsive to people's needs and does not use artificial and irrelevant 'levels', as happens in the Home Care Packages program".

Proposed changes

Some of the major proposed changes include: greater choice, flexibility and transparancy; greater clarity of services, improved safety and quality of care; supports for people with dementia and for carers; individualised support plans, based on assessed aged care needs and personal circumstances; a single assessment process and assessment team and an integrated assessment tool to replace the National Screening and Assessment Form; better matching of services to a person's support needs; and easier access to goods, equipment, assistive technologies and home modifications without having to to 'save' package funds.

People should be able to easily transition to levels of support as their needs increase without having jump through bureaucratic hoops. And the delivery of services such as home care should be efficient to ensure maximum value for older people. - Ian Henschke, National Seniors

If you have questions about the resources or consultation send an email to careathome@health.gov.au.

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