About Home Care
What are self-managed Home Care Packages?
How do you decide which model of Home Care Package works for you?
February 27th, 2021
Caitlin Wright for CareCompare
When researching Home Care Packages, you may have come across an option called ‘Self-Managed Home Care Packages’. The idea behind self-management is that you or your loved one have more autonomy when spending your package funds.
Instead of your Home Care Package provider deciding the carers and support staff, you can make all the decisions regarding you or your loved one’s care.
But how do you know if self-management is for you? Here we look at the pros and cons of self-managed care.
How can Home Care Packages be self-managed?
Most people who receive a Home Care Package sign up with a provider who organises all the support workers. They either have providers on their books or they subcontract some or all of the services out. Although you can request a change if you are not happy with your support worker , you don’t have a lot of choice of who comes next.
However, there is another way. Self-managed Home Care Packages puts you in the driver’s seat of how to spend your package funds. You hire the carer or support worker, you manage your support schedule, and you look after your own Home Care Package budget.
Why haven’t I heard about self-management?
If you haven’t heard of self-managed Home Care Packages, you’re not alone. In a recent research study called ‘Older People Living Well with In-Home Support’, only two of the 40 participants had even heard of self-managed Home Care Packages.
Some home care providers offer the service, but you might find they don’t tell you about it. There is also anecdotal information that some providers try to discourage you from choosing it with stories about excessive admin or that you won’t have care if a support worker is sick.
However, many people who have self-managed care say it couldn’t be further from the truth. In this research report ‘Self-managed Home Care Packages: how Mable is improving the quality of life of older people’, participants talk about loving the freedom of choice, the relationships they build with their support workers, and that their care is their own responsibility.
Does that mean I won’t need a Home Care Package provider?
No, it’s a requirement that your Home Care Package funding is managed by an approved Home Care Package provider. Some providers don’t offer self-management, some do both, and some providers only specialise in self-management.
The amount of freedom you have varies by provider and how involved you want to be. When you’re comparing Home Care Package providers on CareCompare, make sure you tick the box to choose a provider that offers self-management. If you’re interested in self-management, make sure you’re clear with your provider that’s what you want to do.
What are the advantages of self-management?
According to Nicole Dunn, director of Empower Aged Care Consulting, the major advantage is flexibility. “They get choice and control over who they want to deliver their services rather than being directed to go to particular services,” she said. It can be helpful if you already have a carer that you know and trust. You manage your own budget and can decide about what you need, although you need to check in with your package provider before making any purchases.
Another advantage for many people is that overall, it ends up cheaper. Not only do they spend less on provider management fees, but there’s also the option to find private service providers that charge less.
According to the Self-managed Home Care Packages report, one participant reported:
“They all told me a Level 3 package would give me a maximum of eight hours of support. That was insufficient for me. It was unbelievable. On self-management, I get 16 hours of support including an exercise physiologist twice a week and physiotherapist once a week.”
Choosing a support worker needn’t be difficult either. There are many online marketplaces such as Mable and Like Family that can help you choose your support team. They both allow you to search through profiles of support workers so you can choose a provider who suits you and lives close by. While Mable has a whole range of therapy, nursing and support workers, Like Family specialise in social carers.
What else should you be aware of if you choose self-management?
As you’re managing your service providers, there is extra work you or your loved one will need to do on your own. You’ll need to think about how you’re going to choose a service provider. Some package providers have preferred suppliers you can choose from, or you might have some contacts through family and friends.
You need to set up interviews and make sure each service provider understands your needs so they know if their service is a good fit. For some self-management providers, you need to check the qualifications, backgrounds and insurances of the support workers. However, if you’re using an online platform like Mable or Like Family, they do those checks for you so you know anyone on their system is above board.
Finally, you’ll need to work with your provider on an induction and what you’ll do if there’s an emergency or your service provider is sick or on holiday.
If they start and you realise they’re not a good fit, you or your loved one will have to have the uncomfortable conversation to end their services and find another support worker.
If you enjoy managing people and have time on your hands, then none of these may seem like disadvantages.
According to one participant in the Older People Living Well with In-Home Support survey, meeting a new carer while her regular one was away was a blessing. “I am constantly being rewarded with my self-managed package. Yesterday I tried a new carer while one of mine is away. I can’t believe what amazing people I am meeting who have compassion, empathy and intellect,” they wrote.
What skills will you need to self-manage your Home Care Package?
In order to self-manage your Home Care Package, there are some skills that you’ll need to have. According to Nicole, you’ll need an understanding of the healthcare system. “If you’re the one who is taking the lead in arranging services and carers, you do need to have some understanding of what works. How you’d find them and how you’d book in those services.”
You will need to have a level of computer understanding and access to the internet as you often research and book service providers online.
You also need to understand financial statements so you can make sure you know what funds you have available before making a purchase.
How do you know what you can buy with a self-managed package?
With self-managed packages, you will have more autonomy about how you spend your funds. However, all spending still needs to align with your care plan and needs to fit within your budget. Instead of getting permission for each purchase you make, your provider should give you some guidelines about how you’re able to spend your funding. Some providers will give you a list of things you can buy without approval however you will have to check in with them to get approval for other items.
You also need to clarify with your provider how you pay for these services. Some have prepaid cards or a dedicated bank account for home care package funding. Others ask you to pay with your own money and they reimburse you later.
What happens if I need some help
If you’re self-managing your package and run into trouble, don’t worry. It’s a requirement of your package provider that they give you care management from time to time if you need it.
However, it will often cost extra so be aware of that when you ask for it. Make sure you are clear about what you need and for how long to minimise additional fees.
How do I find a service provider that self-manages?
When you’re comparing service providers on CareCompare, there is a check box so you only see providers that offer self-management. It’s also important that you’re clear with the provider that you want to self-manage your package and that they give you the information you need.
With the government’s focus on Consumer Directed Care, Self-Management is an ideal option for people who want to have more control over their home care.
Find providers who allow self-managed packages by using CareCompare search.
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