What is case management?
Under the Consumer Directed Care model, your Home Care Package is yours to spend as you like. You choose a home care provider, and you advise them on the support services you want to spend your budget on.
In most cases, the provider will assign a person to be responsible for all aspects of your package – managing the budget, finding the right services, hiring and paying the service providers. Different providers give them different names – coordinators, case managers or care advisors – but they all provide what is known as ‘provider directed case management’.
There are two important things to know about this. Firstly, these case managers, naturally, cost money – up to as much as 30% of your package. And secondly, as you are ultimately in charge of your package, you can choose how much to spend on this service – or whether to use it at all.
What do case managers do?
Managing your budget and organising your services is a case manger’s chief role. But it doesn’t stop there. Your case manager (who will most often come from a nursing or social work background) should have a holistic and goal-directed view of your treatment. They’re responsible for creating an individual care plan for you that takes into account your desired outcomes – where you’re at now, where you want to be, and how you’re going to get there.
They should have good contacts and be able to source high-quality providers of the services you want, as well as being able to suggest services offered by voluntary or community-based organisations. In this way, they should help you get the best value out of your package.
They should keep in touch with you to assess how your services are going and act as an advocate for you with the service providers. And they’ll be managing the admin side of things too – making sure all the services are paid, and that your budget is balanced.
It’s important to remember that while the case manager takes on these responsibilities, the choices about your services and the direction of your care rest ultimately with you – you are in the driver’s seat.
Case management fees
It can be tricky to know exactly how much case management will cost, because home care providers have different ways of calculating the fee. Some charge separate fees for administration and case management, some incorporate them into one single administration fee. Some charge these fees as a percentage of the package, and some charge a flat rate. Whatever their model, they must make these fees transparent so you know how much you’re being charged.
Case management fees can be as high as 30% of your package, but many providers are now introducing tiered options rather than a one-size-fits-all rate. Under the Consumer Directed Care model, should be able to decide the level of involvement you want to have in managing your Home Care Package. So if you feel that your case management needs aren’t as high, look for a provider that will let you pay less for a lighter service. Some providers will simply manage your funds for as little as 10% – leaving the rest of your package available for the services you need.
Do you need case management?
If you have low-level needs, plenty of time on your hands, and even some family support, you may decide to manage your own care plan and coordinate your own services. It can be time-consuming and stressful, and the admin can be complex to navigate. The upside: as much as 20% more to spend on the services you really want. That can translate to hours of care, assistance or feel-good pampering each week.
On the other hand, a good case manager will have tried and tested contacts and know which are the best support providers out there. They should be able to help you wring every cent of value out of your package, and that might offset some of their fee. Especially if you’re on the higher end of the care scale, with greater needs and higher funds to administer (and maybe less energy to do it), having a case manager’s support and guidance can be well worth the expense.
Remember that the level of case management you require is your decision. Be sure to discuss how much support you need, and how much you’ll be paying for it, when you’re deciding on your home care provider.