In response to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, the Federal Government has announced a commitment to establish a new Support at Home Program in consultation with senior Australians and community stakeholders.
From July 2023, the new Support at Home Program is proposed to replace:
- Commonwealth Home Support Programme
- Home Care Packages
- Short-Term Restorative Care Programme, and
- Residential respite programs.
The Australian Government’s new Support at Home Program reforms all aspects of the delivery of in-home aged care including assessment, reablement and restorative care, to individualised support plans, clarity on service inclusions, funding of providers, and regulation of the market. Under the proposal, consumers will have access to a new program for goods, equipment, assistive technologies, and home modifications needed to live safely and independently, rather than needing to ‘save up’ package funds for these purchases.
Senior Australians will receive individualised service approvals, based on their assessed aged care needs and personal circumstances, rather than being placed in one of the four broad home care package levels. Assessments will focus on independence, providing senior Australians with guidance and support to delay functional decline.
The proposed new funding model will support point-of-delivery payments for service providers, while reducing their reporting burden. This will enable greater transparency for senior Australians and reduce fees and administrative costs.
Providers will need to remain aware of the progress of the roll-out of this program as it may fundamentally change the way that they operate their business. As seen in 2017 and again in 2019, some home care providers were not equipped with the funding and pricing changes to home care. This resulted in significant financial loss for many providers. Understanding and managing the cost of each hour of service will be vital, and depending on the funding model, pricing will be critical to ensure adequate margins are achieved.
Reporting mechanisms will also be important. As seen with the recent changes to the Aged Care Financial Report, many providers’ financial systems were not set up in a way which enabled adequate reporting.
In developing the new support program, it is imperative that consideration is given to the increasing administration burden to deliver aged care services. Many providers have expressed their frustration with the significant increase in reporting imposed on them, which some don’t have further capacity, nor can they afford more resources.
HLB Mann Judd has significant experience in the Aged Care sector and encourage providers to reach out to discuss how we can help.
This article was published in For Impact – Issue 27.