About Home Care
Home care plans and agreements – what you need to know
You’ve received your Home Care Package funding from the government and chosen your provider. What’s next? Now you or your loved one need to work with your provider to develop your home care plan. This will form the basis of your Home Care Agreement. So what’s a care plan and Home Care Agreement, and what should you look out for before signing them?
April 14th, 2021
Caitlin Wright for CareCompare
What is a home care plan?
According to the Australian Department of Health, a home care plan is a document that outlines:
- a person’s home care needs,
- the services they will receive to meet those needs,
- who will provide the services and when.
The care plan should include you or your loved one’s goals, needs and preferences. It should provide a breakdown of services and when you’ll receive them. It should also include how involved you want to be in managing the package and when formal reassessments will occur.
What should you look for in your care plan?
A finding from the Royal Commission into Aged Care Final Report was the poor design of care plans. One in five quality reviews into providers in 2018-19 found that they failed to meet at least one home care outcome. The third most common issue was care plan development.
The report stated: “Care plans, at times, are either not made at all, not updated, have errors or gaps in information, are not used to inform the delivery of care, or are not well understood by the person receiving care and their loved ones.”
Danielle Robertson, founder and CEO of DR Care Solutions, said she often comes across care plans with insufficient information and enormous gaps.
“I look at the care plan and sometimes it’s so basic, it’s just a daily routine. ‘Mrs Brown wakes up at 9am so she needs to be showered and given breakfast’. It doesn’t even say what she likes for breakfast… it’s not actually a care plan, it’s not about the individual,” she told CareCompare.
A good care plan should have personal details about what you like and don’t like. It should have your care needs and where you need extra support. It should examine how you’re going to achieve your goals through your package.
For example, you might have a goal to increase your independence. Your package might include a weekly session with a physiotherapist to improve your mobility. It might also include some transport to the shopping centre to buy your groceries. It should include who is providing these services and when.
How do I get a plan review?
It’s important that home care plans are reviewed regularly to make sure it’s catering for any changing needs. You or your loved one can request a care plan review at any time. You might want to request a review if you notice any decline, have an injury that requires more allied health support or need additional personal care support.
Your service provider should have scheduled reviews at least every 12 months. If you haven’t had a review recently, make sure you get in touch with your provider to find out why.
What is a Home Care Service Agreement?
Once your provider has written your home care plan, it will form the basis of a Home Care Agreement. This agreement is a legal document that will include what funds are available for your use.
The agreement will break down the Government’s contribution and your contribution (including the basic daily fee, income tested fees and any other fees).
Although most Home Care Package providers use a similar template, some of them tweak it a bit to add their own information. Information to look for includes:
- exit fees
- notice periods
- information such as whether they will use contractors instead of employees.
What advice can you get before signing a Home Care Package Agreement?
Your Home Care Package provider has an obligation to make sure your agreement is easy to understand and is in plain English.
You enter this agreement with your provider as equal partners and you can negotiate.
According to Ms Robertson, you shouldn’t rush into signing anything until you fully understand it.
“It’s a big purchase, it’s $54,000 a year for a level 4 package. I’d always recommend someone in the next generation down to read it if the parents can’t read it. And if you don’t understand it, get some legal advice.”
You can also ask for an independent advocate to help you. You can find an advocate through the National Aged Care Advocacy Program. They can help you understand the Home Care Agreement, talk to you about any concerns you might have, and help you negotiate with your package provider.
It’s also worth noting that you have the right not to sign your agreement, and your provider will record your reasoning for accountability. Once you receive services, though, you will have entered an in-principle agreement.
Does signing a Home Care Service Agreement mean I can’t leave this provider?
Although you’ve signed a contract, it doesn’t mean you can’t change providers. If you’re not happy with your provider, you have the choice to find a Home Care Package provider that better suits your needs.
Some providers charge exit fees, so make sure you note this when you’re searching for your new Home Care Package provider.
You can compare Home Care Package providers in your area using the CareCompare search.
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