‘Don’t shift the goal posts!’ – are the fears warranted?

In under 2 months, government-funded support for inhome care is changing and I’ve heard lots of anxiety this past year about how Home Care Packages will be impacted. Any change brings with it fear – and this can be exacerbated for elderly people living independently at home – but is it all warranted? In this week’s posting, let’s face the fears.

You’re going to hear a lot more noise about Home Care Package changes before February 27 and people can immediately interpret that as a negative thing, but they need to take a deep breath and realise there’s an enormous amount that is NOT changing. Much of the online literature and other educational pieces I’ve read about the HCP changes, can either sound too clinical, or too much like a government press release. At Prestige Inhome Care, we have a direct personal connection with our clients, and feedback I have received through them tells me their fears may not be adequately addressed or allayed through the major communications channels.

Some things have been around for a long time and are not changing, but are only now being brought to people’s attention because of the spotlight around February 27. The goal posts are not shifting nearly so much as some are saying.

Fear #1: Consumer Directed Care will be a massive shift which the system won’t handle

I think a lot of the hoo ha I hear people talking about is that Consumer Directed Care (CDC) is coming with the February 27 changes, and that such a ‘major’ shift will be problematic. Well, it’s not the introduction of CDC, which has been in effect for all new Home Care Packages since 2013 started as a pilot program some years ago and all packages have had to be implemented with CDC since 2015. All Prestige Inhome Care products are already consumer-directed.

You already choose with our private inhome care all elements of service provision including how much, how little, what time, which day, what sort of person delivers the care, when it starts, stops, and obviously the services you get, whether they be cleaning and showering, home and garden maintenance, taking you to appointments and/or making meals.

If those services are not delivered to your satisfaction, you can take your money to somebody else. CDC is already the essence of our product.

CDC is not changing things in inhome care next year, it’s already changed here and is business as usual with service providers like Prestige. However, the new Home Care Packages will see the formalisation of the CDC philosophy to packaged inhome care across the industry in Australia.

Fear #2: My existing package will be lessened, lost or otherwise changed.

There is unwarranted anxiety among people who currently have a Home Care Package with a service provider: the changes will not affect your care and you will receive your services as usual. You will however, find it easier to change service providers if you choose.

Fear #3: Can I be penalised for purchasing extra care?

Something not widely understood, is not changing, but has received some attention during the discussions of late: income tested means tests and your own private package contributions.

Income tests already exist as part of package assessement, determining how much (if any) you are required to contribute to your Government funded Home Care Package.which of the 4 levels of funding you qualify for. The process involves an application to Centrelink where your income is assessed and based on your income they will tell you how much of the package you have to pay. – you may need to contribute a percentage of the package.

Important to note is that you can have care above and beyond the hours in your Government funded package allocation. If you decide to purchase more care, beyond the contribution you already make to your package, (you might be currently paying nothing to the package if you’re a full pensioner, YOU CAN – the Government won’t ask for more contribution to your package, and won’t lower your package level. Simply put, you can buy as much additional support as you want without any impact whatsoever on the amoint the Government will continue to fund.

In all of what we hear in the next few months through the media or perhaps third-hand in poorly ill-informed discussions, it’s important to remember that much of the anxiety around Home Care Packages is not warranted, because there is much that is NOT changing – it’s just that many people are only just starting to learn about the system and procedures now.

So, what IS changing?: in short, home care packages nationwide are becoming more like our Prestige private care, enabling flexibility, choice and portability. We’ll have a closer look next time at what’s to embrace in the changes.

Nick McDonald
Chief Executive Officer
Prestige Inhome Care