Home Care News
What the Royal Commission into Aged Care means for home care
The 8 key recommendations for home care and what it means for you
March 2nd, 2021
Caitlin Wright for CareCompare
Useful and relevant information on aged care services and the performance of services and providers is hard to come by. It remains difficult for people to make informed decisions about aged care services they are likely to receive.
Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, Final Report Volume 1
After two years, almost 100 hearing days, 10,500 submissions and 600 witnesses, the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety’s final report has been released. As expected, the summary from the two commissioners, Tony Pagone and Lynelle Briggs, is damning.
Their eight-volume report speaks about a system in crisis and the deep-rooted neglect and abuse of older Australians.
However, they don’t agree on all points. They differ on funding models and how best to govern the sector.
What they agreed on is that ageing at home can be central to a person’s sense of identity and independence.
They have laid out an extensive 148 recommendations, including a new system to overhaul the entire aged care system.
We have summarised 8 key findings and recommendations we think are more relevant to home care and to you.
1. Reduce the Home Care Package waitlist
We all know how important this is and how much of an impact the current waitlist has had. The Commissioners noted that in 2018–19, waiting times for Home Care Packages ranged from seven months for a level 1 package to 34 months for a Level 4 package. There were 102,081 older people waiting for a package on 30 June 2020.
When they get a package, it’s often not enough care and leaves people at risk of declining function, carer burnout and premature entry to residential care and even death.
The government should clear The Home Care Package waiting list by 31 December 2021. After this date, applicants should be allocated a Home Care Package within one month of assessment.
2. Reduce the complexity of the current system
If you’ve ever researched aged care, you’d know how utterly confusing it all is. The system currently includes 17 Commonwealth Home Support Programme services, 11 forms of respite care, four levels of Home Care Package, and residential aged care. The Commissioners said this has to change.
There should be just five service categories designed to work in a complementary way to meet needs. Those categories are:
- respite supports (a greater range of high-quality respite support in homes, cottages and purpose-built facilities)
- social supports (to help reduce and prevent social isolation and loneliness)
- assistive technology and home modifications (goods, aids, equipment and services that promote independence and reduce risks to living safely at home)
- care at home (care management, living supports, such as cleaning, personal, clinical and therapeutic care)
- residential care (high quality care available for people who can no longer live at home)
3. Create a unified home care model
The report found that many older people would prefer to live at home but aren’t well supported. The Commissioners recommend that the government provides significantly more funding to allow older people to live at home for longer.
The Australian Government is currently developing an alternative model for assessment, classification, and funding within a unified home care program.
A new model of home care should begin by 1st July 2024. This new program should support older people living at home and provide enough budget for the care they need. It should also allow the person receiving care to choose a service provider. The provider is responsible for making sure they receive those services.
4. Change the way home care funding works
The commissioners believe all Australians should be able to access good quality aged care. Although there was disagreement between the Commissioners on funding, they agreed that personal and clinical care services should be available for all. Those costs should be distributed across the community.
They also don’t believe older people should pay for social support, home modifications, or assistive technologies when they need these services.
By 1 July 2024, the Australian Government should pay subsidies for service provision within the care at home category through a new funding model.
5. Increase transparency and reduce confusion over services
Currently, home care providers receive subsidies from the government for each month in advance, regardless of the service provided. Unfortunately, this has led to an accumulation of unspent funds and lack of clarity of what services the older person has received.
The government should pay home care providers once the services have been received. In addition, there should be standardised format for home care provider statements to record the services delivered and costs incurred.
To help people navigate the aged care system, Commissioner Briggs also recommends the introduction of a workforce called ‘care finders’ who can help older people find information about aged care services and help them make the right decision.
At CareCompare, our aim is to provide a more transparent way of comparing providers. With our comparison tool, you can break down the current cost, fees and other available information helping you find the right Home Care Package provider for you or your loved one.
6. Increase allied health in home care
A 2018–19 survey found that only 2% of Home Care Package funding was spent on allied health. Allied health includes dietitians, exercise physiologists, mental health workers, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, podiatrists, psychologists, speech pathologists and specialist oral and dental health professionals.
This type of healthcare can be crucial in maintaining mobility and functionality.
from 1 July 2024, the assessment process for home care eligibility should include allied health care recommendations.
7. Improve quality and increase regulation of the home care industry
There is very little regulation of home care, which is something the commissioners said should be addressed. Currently, providers of home care don’t need accreditation. They are subject to a quality review every three years however the median time before a quality review of a new home care service was 201 days in 2018-19.
By 1st July 2024, all home care service providers that provide care management, personal care, clinical care, enabling and therapeutic care, or palliative and end-of-life care should be accredited. There should also be a graded assessment of service performance against the Aged Care Quality Standards introduced by 1st July 2022.
In the coming weeks, an additional feature on CareCompare will allow you to rate your provider against the Aged Care Quality Standards. This rating system will allow you to securely and anonymously have your voice heard and help others make better choices.
8. Improve staff training and pay
Commissioner Briggs noted that one-third of people in home care have concerns about staff, including inadequate training and a lack of continuity of care. Low training and remuneration has long been an issue in the aged care sector, which this report addressed.
The Australian Government should fund teaching aged care programs for both residential aged care and home care settings. There should be an increase in award wages in line with workers in similar sectors such as disability and health.
Commissioner Briggs recommended personal care workers should receive supervision by a registered nurse or allied health professional. These supervisors would not accompany them at work but would provide training, support and advice.
What do these recommendations mean for home care and you?
This is only a snapshot of the 148 recommendations that could lead to the overhaul of a broken sector. How many of these recommendations the Australian Government takes on board is yet to be announced. They have already announced half a billion dollars in funding, including $190 million for temporary financial support and $92 million to develop the aged care workforce.
At CareCompare, we hope that the government will adopt these home care recommendations. Until then, we’re committed to making the home care process easier. We want to make sure you have the most comprehensive and transparent provider information available. We coordinate with providers, source data from both government and non-government agencies and translate it into a meaningful experience to put the power back in your hands.
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