Hi, my name is Rebecca and I work for the Department of Health.
Today I want to tell you about changes the Australian Government is making to the Home Care Packages Program.
The changes commenced on the 1st of September and will be implemented over a 6-month period.
The changes will provide you with a clearer picture of your home care package budget and your unspent funds.
This means you can have greater confidence that the maximum amount of your package will go towards supporting you to remain in your own home for as long as possible.
Importantly, the changes don’t require you to do anything.
However, you may notice changes to the way your provider talks to you about your package.
This is because we are changing the way your provider is paid.
From the 1st of September, your home care provider will only be paid for the care and services they delivered to you in the past month.
This means your provider will be paid after you have received your services.
If you don’t spend the full amount of your package budget, any remaining package funds will be saved for you, in your own Government home care account.
Your home care account will be set up for you by Services Australia.
Your provider may start using the unspent funds they already hold for you to pay for your services, before making any additional claims for Government home care package funds.
If your provider does this, your new monthly Government home care package entitlement will be credited to your home care account.
These funds will be held for you, until you need them.
You will not lose access to these funds.
Any fees you pay that are not spent on your services will be held for you by your provider as unspent funds, as they are currently.
These funds will also be available to pay for your services in future.
Your monthly provider statement will show the amount of unspent funds held in your home care account and unspent funds currently held by your provider.
Over the coming months, your provider will include a breakdown of where your funds are held – whether they are held by your provider, or in your Government home care account.
It doesn’t matter where your unspent funds are held, they will continue to be available for you to use and to pay your provider for your care, services and goods.
If you have been saving to make a large purchase your funds will still be available to make your purchase, within the program rules of course.
You can also continue to save for large purchases.
You should talk to your provider about any large purchases and work out when you will be able to buy them.
If you don’t have enough funds saved up, you may need to consider entering into a leasing arrangement or delaying the purchase until you have saved enough.
As I mentioned, these changes do not require you to do anything.
- Your provider will continue to deliver the services in your home care agreement.
- The same home care package budget that has always been available to pay for your care, services, and goods, will continue to be available to you.
- Your home care fees, as agreed, and documented in your home care agreement, will not change. If you have been assessed as needing to contribute to your care, via the income tested care fee, you need to pay this fee.
- Your provider’s obligations to you, to deliver safe and high-quality services, will not change.
- You will still be able to change providers and take your unspent funds with you.
A fact sheet explaining these changes is available on the Department of Health website.
Search on ‘Improved Payment Arrangements Care Recipient Fact Sheet’ on www.health.gov.au
If you are self-managing your package, there is also a fact sheet for you. It can also be found by searching on ‘Improved Payment Arrangements Care Recipient Fact Sheet’ at www.health.gov.au
If you have any concerns you can speak to your provider.
You can also call My Aged Care on 1800 200 422.
You also have the right to speak to an aged care advocate.
You can access free, confidential and independent aged care advocacy through the Older Persons Advocacy Network, call them on 1800 700 600 or visit their website at www.opan.org.au