Did you know that you can switch Home Care providers?
4th January 2018
In 2017, the Federal Government made a number of big changes to Home Care Services in Australia.
So what do all these changes actually mean for people using home care services?
Here are four tips to understand the changes and what they means for you or your loved one on a government funded package.
1. It’s now your package
Previously, the Government would give funding packages to organisations, who would then allocate them to people waiting for a package. If you wanted to move to another provider, any unspent funds would remain with the original organisation.
Now these funded packages belong to you, the client. You can choose which organisation delivers your home care service, and if you want to change home care providers, any unspent funds would follow you and the original organisation transfers your unspent funds to your new provider. So you don’t lose any funds by swapping providers.
2. Exit fee – what is it and who pays?
Home care providers can now charge a fee if you choose to leave and go to another provider. This is a discretionary fee which can help providers cover their administration costs incurred when transferring you to your new provider.
Firstly, it’s important to know that an exit fee is only payable if it’s included in your Home Care Agreement. If it is, and you decide to move your home care package from one home care provider to another, your exit fee must come out of your unspent home care package funds.
If your unspent funds cannot cover this cost, you cannot be asked to pay for this out of your own pocket.
If you receive communication from your old provider asking you to pay an exit fee, refer back to your agreement. If it’s not stated there and/or your unspent funds cannot cover it, don’t pay it.
3. You can now move your package – but what to look for when moving?
There are a myriad of things we can talk about when comparing providers, but in relation to the government changes, you should be aware that the way figures are being promoted differs greatly from one service provider to another.
Make sure when you compare providers, ask what all their fees, charges and hour rates are. Administration, entry, switching, and exit fees are only some fees that are being advertised. Some providers add case management, advisory, scheduling, and service coordination into their monthly fee, but some charge this as a separate hourly service. There is no consistency across providers, so you aren’t comparing apples with apples in terms of the percentage of fees versus hours of service.
A basic way to compare is to (a) ask how many hours of service they offer in that package, and then (b) if there are any additional costs.
At the end of the day, you want to know exactly what you are paying in fees, so you know exactly how much you have to fund services that will help you or your loved one in and around the home.
4. I’m new to home care service – what do the changes mean for me?
The changes mean that the client now has much greater choice.
The greatest changes is that service providers can now take on as many clients and packages as they can manage. This wasn’t the case before, as providers were limited by the number of packages the Government awarded them.
The changes give new clients more access to pick and choose their provider of choice, determine how their funding is spent across services, and are able to get services in place much faster than before.
Remember – in the same way you can change telcos or energy providers, if you’re not happy with your service, you can move your package to another provider!