Support at Home - a step closer to ageing in place?

Australian home care packages

A change for care at home is in the air following the Royal Commission in Aged Care Quality and Safety. After much feedback regarding the sometimes cumbersome and limiting process in place with current home care packages, the Department of Health has proposed a new Support at Home Program design commencing July 2023.

 So, what does this mean for Senior Australians and their families who require care support packages? And will digital technologies finally be recognised as a crucial part of ageing in the home? Here, we address the following questions:

 

Why is change needed?

What changes are being considered?

How to have your say

Support at home

Support at home overview

 Why is change needed?

Last year, the Royal Commission made 148 recommendations for reforming the aged care system to improve the quality of care provided in residential and home-based aged care to senior Australians. An overall finding was the need to support senior Australians to stay in their homes for longer.  

In response to recommendations 35 and 188, the Australian Government is developing a new Support at Home Program. The new program will combine and replace the following current home care packages available into one Support at Home Program:

One of the most significant challenges faced by older Australian’s is the wait times and prioritisation queues. It can take up to 9 months to wait for an assessment decision confirming whether an applicant is eligible for a home care package. In reality, applicants are waiting to apply for a support package until they need it, and nine months for approval on a package they need is too long. Furthermore, these programs see high levels of unspent funds due to recipients either ‘saving up’ package funds to make larger purchases or their package not suiting their needs, which can be detrimental. The overwhelming sentiment has been that the current programs and systems are not fit for purpose.

Support at home program

(My Aged Care, 2022)

We hear more and more that Senior Australians want to remain at home for as long as they can before going to a residential aged care facility, and this program will help make that happen. It is intended that the new initiative will better target required services and provide much-needed clarity for over one million Australians currently receiving these packages, as well as solving for future recipients. 

What changes are being considered? 

The Royal Commission has established that reform needs to take place. Thus, in consultation with Senior Australians and community stakeholders, the Support at Home Program has been developed to ensure benefits from the current are maintained while the key problem areas are addressed. The following changes have been proposed:

elderly woman and nurse

Individualised assessment outcomes proposed

A new integrated assessment tool

New classification framework

Individualised assessment outcomes

Inclusion of digital technology and remote monitoring

New provider service catalogue to offer clarity

Access to goods, equipment, assistive technologies (GEAT) and home modifications to support independence

New regulatory model to self-manage care

Consistent funding arrangements (point of delivery platform)

Better support for all seniors and specific cohorts

Instead of being put into one of four broad home care package levels, applicants are being assessed on their individual needs and personal circumstances. Doing so will allow individualised support plans and assessments, clarity on services, and improved market regulation and funding to the providers that need it most—ultimately enabling Senior Australians to stay at home for longer due to a personalised approach.

elderly woman tablet

Digital technologies to enable Australians to stay in their home for longer

Digital technologies are finally now also considered a crucial part of aging at home and have been incorporated into two service categories. As a care technology provider, Eevi supports the notion the Royal Commission unveiled. Eevi’s Managing Director, David Waldie, explains,

“There is a critical role for digital technologies in supporting care and functional needs, managing safety, improving levels of social engagement, and supporting the quality of life of older Australians at home. We see the benefits of that with our existing customers every day and are pleased to see the system adapting to suit the evolving wishes of older Australian’s”.

Finally, these changes will eliminate the need to ‘save up’ package funds as their tailored program would allow for required items needed to live safely and independently. Furthermore, it will allow greater transparency and reduced fees due to the program funding model supporting point of delivery payments while offering seniors and their families a greater choice between providers.

How to have your say

With this new program rollout, one home for life indeed has a new sense of meaning and could be a big step closer to being a reality for many more Australian’s. It’s a positive sign to see these recommendations evolve into a fit for purpose system for the benefit of Senior Australians. Consultations from various groups will begin informing the design of the package ready for release in July 2023.

If you would like to inform the Support at Home Packages design, the department is undertaking consultations in 2022. Sign up to the engagement hub for further updates. For more information on care technologies available to assist in your home today, please contact us and we look forward to updating you further on this new government announcement in the coming months.

 

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