What a home care agreement is
A home care agreement is a legal agreement between:
- you, the home care service provider
- a person starting home care with you (or their legal representative).
It sets out how you will provide or organise services, who will provide them and how much they will cost.
What to include in an agreement
Home care agreements must be in plain language and easy to understand. They must include the following information.
Details of people and services
- Care recipient details
- Your provider details
- The date the services will begin
- The levels of care and services you will provide or organise
- When you will provide the services (if they are not ongoing)
Fees and charges information
- A copy of your pricing schedule, which includes your service prices, maximum fees and any exit amount
- If you charge service prices different to the schedule, the reason for the difference
- Your policies for setting fees
- What they will need to pay during leave from services
- When you or the care recipient can end services
- When they can take leave from services
- Your complaints process
- Their responsibilities
- A statement that you will provide services using a consumer-directed care approach
- A statement that you will provide a care plan, individualised budget and monthly statement
How to prepare an agreement
You must work with the person to prepare the home care agreement. They must understand and agree to all the fees, prices and conditions before any services can begin.
You’re responsible for making sure they understand everything in the agreement.
If needed, use the Translating and Interpreting Service.
Providers should ensure their home care agreements do not contain unfair contract terms. Although businesses may use standard form contracts for efficiency, it is important that businesses consider a consumer’s (recipient) rights when preparing their contracts. An Australia-wide law protects recipients from unfair terms in standard form consumer contracts. The law offers recipients increased protection in circumstances where they have little or no opportunity to negotiate with the provider.
When to provide an agreement
When you have prepared the agreement, provide a signed copy to the person as soon as possible. You must do this and give them time to sign it (if they choose to) before you start services.
Reviewing and updating an agreement
You must review a person’s home care agreement if:
- their care needs change
- your prices change
- they ask you to.
This should be part of your ongoing care discussions with the person.
If needed, use the Translating and Interpreting Service.
Before you make changes to an agreement, you and your care recipient must discuss, understand, and agree to them.
You must actively support care recipients to understand any changes by giving them all necessary information.
Information provided to care recipients should be in an accessible format, tailored to them and include:
- what is changing
- why it needs to change
- what the new terms or prices include
- when the new terms or prices will start, and
- who to contact to discuss the proposed changes.
Following adequate consultation, you must reach an agreement with care recipients before enacting any changes, noting:
- you may need to review care plans and individual budgets to accommodate changes, requiring a reassessment of needs and priorities
- care recipients may renegotiate the terms of their agreement
- care recipient ‘agreement’ means they are adequately informed and understand all the changes and the terms of the proposed agreement
- we do not consider a notice of changes to be discussion and mutual agreement with the care recipient, unless decreasing prices to meet legislated price caps starting 1 January 2023.
We expect you to give care recipients a minimum of 14 days to respond to proposed changes unless they are urgently required by the care recipient.
When you reach agreement, you must document it by either:
- you and the care recipient signing the new agreement
- you may also add a file note to the home care agreement noting the agreed changes and any discussion with the care recipient. This complies with legislated price caps starting 1 January 2023. You must update the home care agreement with revised charges in the next update
- retaining evidence of the agreement where the care recipient agrees to the changes but has not signed the agreement. Evidence includes:
- a copy of the agreement you offered to the care recipient (retain record of how it was sent and received)
- a file note of the discussion with the care recipient about the basis of the varied agreement (including the date the discussion took place, how it took place and that it was accepted)
- keeping evidence that you are delivering the package of care and services as described in the agreement.
Where the care recipient agrees to the terms of the proposed home care agreement change and continues to receive services from you without signing the agreement, an agreement can be considered ‘in place’.
You must provide a copy of the updated agreement as soon as possible after finalising it and before the services commence at the different price.
When a care recipient does not agree to changes
If a care recipient does not agree to the proposed changes:
- you should negotiate to reach agreement with the care recipient – provide a detailed rationale in a format that the care recipient will understand
- they may seek independent advice from consumer advocates, family members, or legal advisers
- they may wish to change providers (My Aged Care provides a range of tools to support choice).
You should not use security of tenure provisions to cancel a home care agreement where a care recipient does not consent to a change. Cancelling an agreement on the basis of security of tenure should only ever be used as a last resort. If you use this provision, you will have to demonstrate sufficient grounds for terminating provision of care. Where service provision is no longer viable, you are expected to assist your care recipients to find a new provider, local to the region.
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