Home Care Packages – more changes from February 2017

The provision of care for those who are ageing is changing rapidly and the most significant changes take effect from 27 February 2017.
Currently Home packages are allocated to regions and providers. Packages are allocated to applicants that best meet the needs of the aged communities in aged care planning regions. The demand for packages is much greater than the supply of packages and is growing yet there are around 20,000 unused packages indicating that regional variations in demand differ from that anticipated when the packages were allocated.
The current system also leads to an inefficient use of funds as it is estimated that around 17per cent of funds allocated under existing packages are kept by recipients as contingency funds. So there are ongoing issues with the current method of allocating packages.
To try and remedy the situation, from 2017, the Home Care Packages will follow the client, not the provider. There will be no allocation of home care packages to providers. Instead there will be a centralisation of package allocation with applicants joining a national queue. Applicants must be over 65 years of age. An applicant’s place in the queue will be determined by a combination of the level of need based on an ACAT assessment and the date the application is made. There will be more lower level packages than higher level packages which means some applicants may have to take a lower level package in the first instance.
The Department of Health wants to promote what it calls Wellness and Reablement to get as many package users as possible back to self-sufficiency. A major goal will be to drive down costs in a sector where the costs can escalate rapidly. There can be no doubt that a more complex pricing structure will emerge as providers attempt to meet customer demands by charging more where they can.
The new system should provide the Department of Health with valuable data about the pattern of demand nation-wide, and information regarding changes in the number and type of providers as new providers come into the market.

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