Since the Government changed to the Consumer Directed Care (CDC) model for home care, it’s been possible to change care providers whenever you like. Consumer Directed Care means the funding package is in your hands, so if you choose to change providers, any unspent funds follow you – you don’t lose any funds when you switch.
If, for whatever reason, you’re unhappy with your current provider, don’t hesitate to consider switching. But first, take the following advice into account, and talk to your family or someone you trust before you make the switch.
Be clear about why you want to switch
Why are you unhappy with your current arrangements? Is it the quality of care? Do you not like the carer? Is it too expensive? Be clear on your reasons for wanting to switch. Maybe it’s time to review your care plan. Your provider should be holding regular reviews with you. And remember, under the CDC model you can adapt the services included in your package as you like, in consultation with your case manager. Or, if your needs have changed, you might need a new Aged Care Assessment.
It’s a good idea to explain your concerns to someone else – a family member or trusted friend – to give you the chance to air your concerns and get feedback, before raising them with your provider.
Raise your concerns with your current provider
Since the change to CDC, care providers are now competing for your business. You may find that if they know you’re thinking of switching, your provider will be more flexible and willing to address your issues. And if it doesn’t work out, then you’ll be confident that you are making the right decision to look elsewhere.
Have an honest discussion with your current provider about your reasons for wanting to switch. If you’re nervous about having this conversation on your own, especially if you’re distressed or emotional about the reasons for wanting to switch, it may be a good idea to ask a trusted family member or friend to be there for moral support.
Check your Home Care Agreement/ Care Plan
Before you make the decision to change providers you should check your Home Care Agreement with your current provider. Providers are allowed to charge an exit fee if you leave their service; this amount must be specified in the Home Care Agreement, as well as any notice period that applies.
The exit fee can’t be any more than what is stated in the agreement, nor can it be more than what you have left in your package. (If you don’t have anything left in your package, they can’t charge you an exit fee.) Any unspent funds will move with you to your new home care provider.
Get the timing right
Start researching new providers as early as possible to avoid any interruptions to your services. Ideally, you will have chosen a new provider before you agree on an end date with your current one.
When you have agreed an end date, you have 56 days from that date to enter into a Home Care Agreement with a new provider. If you miss this deadline, your package will lapse.
The start date with your new provider must be after the agreed end date with your old provider; the dates must not overlap.
Shop around and compare fees
Don’t be afraid to ask questions and take your time before making a decision. You want to make sure the new provider is going to satisfy your expectations. Ask for a detailed summary of all the care options they provide. A good provider will offer you a personalised care assessment in your home and the opportunity to meet with your carer. Make sure you are completely comfortable before you make the switch.
It can be difficult to compare fees directly, because providers promote their fees in different ways; eg, some include case management in their monthly fee, others charge it as a separate hourly service. Attempt to make an apples- with-apples comparison by asking each provider how many hours of service are included each month, and if there are any additional costs.
Be sure to choose an approved and certified provider. As well as being approved by the Department of Health as listed on My Aged Care, better providers may also be certified by organisations such as TAC and WorkCover.
For more information about choosing a home care provider, our specialised team is here to guide you through every step.