Choosing and switching home care
Under the Consumer Directed Care model, you choose who provides your care, and you work with them to develop your individual care plan. Depending on where you live and the level of care you need, you’ll probably have a choice of care providers.
Once you’ve identified the elements of care you need – guided by your Aged Care Assessment and the Home Care Package (or HACC in WA) you are entitled to – it’s time to find your provider. Your package can only be allocated to one provider, so it’s important that you choose someone who can support all of your care needs.
How to choose
There’s no single way to choose providers.
The easiest way to find and narrow down providers is to search here for the contact details and services offered by providers in your area.
Find home care providers near you
If you’re still having trouble finding the right care, try these other methods:
- Follow a recommendation by your social worker, case manager or other care professional
- Pay a placement agent to find services that best suit you
- Get help from the free government advocacy service by calling 1800 700 600
- Use a marketplace supplier (often found via a smartphone app); this is usually the cheapest option, however you may have a different person each time you request a care service
Care levels and services
To spend your Home Care Package budget, you need to work out what mix of services you need. Your care needs will have been identified in your Aged Care Assessment. Depending on how much care you need, you will have been given a care level:
- Level 1 – basic care
- Level 2 - low-level care
- Level 3 - intermediate care
- Level 4 - high-level care
These levels also determine how much money is in your package. Basic packages range from around $8000 to $50,000 a year.
If your needs change, you can arrange to be re-assessed. In any case, all providers must arrange a new Aged Care Assessment for you at least one a year.
Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP)
If you aren’t eligible for a Home Care Package, you might still be able to get entry-level home support through the Commonwealth Home Support Programme. Services are designed to help people live in their homes more comfortably, and can include:
- Household and garden jobs,
- personal care,
- nursing care, physio and other therapies
- help making meals,
- respite care for you when your regular carer takes a break,
- and more.
The CHSP is for people who just need a little bit of help with everyday tasks. If carrying the shopping is getting difficult, for example, there’s sure to be a friendly young whippersnapper willing to help. That is, if you can get them off their phone.
Call My Aged Care on 1800 200 422 to see if you’re eligible and to arrange for an assessment in your home.
Compare costs and conditions
Comparing costs and contract conditions is another way to help you choose your provider. Here are seven questions you can ask:
- Do they charge the basic daily fee? It’s currently around $10, and many providers are absorbing it.
- What is their hourly care fee?
- Is there an exit fee? The average is around $500 for breaking a contract.
- How long is the contract duration?
- What is their minimum notice period?
- What isn’t included (e.g. clearing gutters and changing light globes is sometimes not included)
- If your carer is unavailable, will someone else come?
All of the fees and terms discussed need to be provided in writing on a signed care agreement. Make sure you get a copy!
If you’re switching, some providers will reimburse your exit fees in order to start a care relationship with you. For example, if your exit fee is $500, a new provider might offer $500 worth of free care if you sign up with them. It’s worth asking!
How to switch providers
Your care needs might change, you might move, you might not be getting the care you expected, or you might just decide it’s time for a change of provider. With Consumer Directed Care, you can change at any time.
- Check your agreement to see if your provider will charge an exit fee (this will come out of your unspent funds)
- Check to see if your existing provider can provide the care you need
- If your needs have changed, you might need a new Aged Care Assessment
- Identify a new care provider
Making the switch
- Talk to your current provider to arrange an end date. Be aware of any exit fees.
- Contact My Aged Care to re-activate your Home Care referral code. Call 1800 200 422.
- Sign a new Aged Care Agreement with your new provider (do this within 56 days of cancelling, or call My Aged Care for an extension)
- Tell your old provider and they’ll send any unspent funds to your new provider
If you are switching, but would like to keep your existing carer, you might be in luck. Many carers are contractors; if that’s the case for you, ask your new provider if they’d be willing to put your carer onto their books.
Read next: Types of care available in your home