Home Care Packages Program update – April 2022

This update is for the Home Care Packages Program and outlines recent changes, including: payment arrangements, guidance on the claiming process, reporting unspent funds, and recipients who move to residential facilities.

Audience:
Health sector

Payment arrangements update

As at 30 March 2022, over 97% of providers have submitted a claim under the new arrangements. Provider-held Commonwealth unspent funds has been reported for 153,348 care recipients. This is a great result and demonstrates that most providers are successfully operating under the payment in arrears model.

Some providers may still be encountering issues where they have not processed an exit with 70 days. A reminder that Services Australia will only consider manually processing a claim outside of the 70 days in exceptional circumstances. Each instance will need to be considered on a case-by-case basis by emailing Services Australia with the claim details (if the issue is time-sensitive, please call the Services Australia’s aged care claims and payments enquiry line after sending the email).

Claiming contacts and guidance

If you have any queries about the claiming process, your claims or your payments, please call Services Australia’s aged care claims and payments enquiry line on 1800 195 206 (from 8.30am to 5pm AEDT, Mon-Fri).

For queries that are not time-sensitive, Services Australia’s aged care payments team can also be contacted by email at aged.care.liaison@servicesaustralia.gov.au. Note that queries submitted via email are addressed on a first in/first served basis, and response times may be impacted by the volume of queries from others submitted through this channel. The typical response timeframe for this inbox is 28 days. Please do not send emails such as 'Thanks' following resolution of an enquiry.

For further guidance, visit the IPA website or view the recently updated IPA Q&A Fact Sheet which includes guidance on managing debts and large purchases. If you have general IPA enquiries, you can email enquiries@health.gov.au

Previous update

For further information about IPA implementation, please view the March update.

Unspent funds reporting in the monthly statement

The department has released a Better Practice Home Care Package Monthly Statement template and supporting provider and consumer documentation. Home care providers are encouraged to align with this template to improve the quality of HCP statements.

Providers are also encouraged to include the distribution of unspent funds amounts on their Care Recipient Monthly Statements, as soon as possible. The unspent funds amounts include the:

  • provider-held care recipient portion
  • provider-held Commonwealth portion
  • home care account balance.

This will ensure that the amount of funds available to pay for care and services is fully transparent to care recipients.

Home care recipients moving to residential facilities

The department has received several enquiries relating to Home Care Packages (HCP) care recipients moving to residential facilities and resulting issues with home care claims.

Providers can access a care recipient’s information, make necessary updates and finalise their accounts in Service Australia’s Aged Care Provider Portal for 70 days after they depart care. Providers will have ‘view only’ access of care recipient information after the 70 days. 

As part of providers’ continuity of care obligations, it is recommended that they keep a record of all relevant information relating to unspent funds if a care recipient plans to depart the service for residential care. While sometimes entry to residential care can be sudden, providers are obligated to log leave entries for hospital and residential respite admissions and be in regular communication with the care recipient and/or their representative.

New consumer home care pricing tool

New home care pricing tools are now available on the My Aged Care website, including:

  • an improved layout to display Provider Costs
  • a new Quick Costs Checker tool
  • Cost Comparison indicators.

When senior Australians are choosing a provider for their Home Care Package, they want to understand provider costs, why provider prices may be higher or lower than others and what makes a provider’s services different or better value for them than others.

These changes will better inform senior Australians about the breakdown of a Home Care Package budget, by package level, and enable them to compare the prices of like services between providers.

It is important for home care providers to keep their pricing information up to date on the My Aged Care Provider Portal. Providers must review their published prices at least annually.

Quarterly financial report

The new template for the quarterly financial report will be released shortly. The department will send out detailed communications including how we will support you through the change.

For further information see Aged Care Financial Report | Australian Government Department of Health

Please send any enquiries to ffbconsultation@health.gov.au.

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