Call for more independent aged care advisers to encourage better use of home care services

Media Release: 5 March, 2018

Elder protection advocacy group Greysafe has called on the Federal Government to introduce an accreditation scheme for trained independent aged care advisers to help older Australians better navigate care services available to them in their own home.

The call comes in the wake of the latest media reports highlighting questionable care standards in Australia’s residential aged care sector and a blow out in the number of elderly people on waiting lists for relevant care packages.

The latest figures reveal there are now over 100,000 people in the queue for appropriate home-care packages. More than 60,000 have no package at all, and 40,000 have a package at a lower level than what they need.

Greysafe CEO Mike Cahill said accessing high standard aged care services and understanding the options available to them remained confusing for older Australians, with the majority wanting to remain in their own homes while getting access to the care services they need.

“In the wake of another media report last week highlighting poor nutrition standards in aged care facilities and news the Federal Government will shut down and replace the national aged-care auditor that failed to close the condemned Oakden facility in South Australia, it is time to help older Australians better navigate the aged care services they want and where they want those services to take place – in their own homes,” Mr Cahill said.

“However, while more older Australians want to remain in their own homes as they age, they often can’t access the care and services they need.

“We believe part of the problem is they don’t understand that as part of their home care package, they now have individualised funding amounts and with a little bit of knowledge they can reduce the money they are spending on the administration, tailor thecase management to their needs and reallocate to the savings to purchase more of the care services they actually need.”

Mr Cahill said one solution was for older Australians to be able to access advice from a pool of government subsidised, trained and accredited independent advisers to help them access more care services from their home care package.

“Residential aged care should be seen as a last resort due to the social and financial impact on individuals and the system itself. But the home care sector is already showing the strain with many elderly Australians needing more of the care services available but unable to access them due? to an inadequate home care package.

“Our investigations reveal the problem may not always be the level of package, but consumer’s lack of awareness and understanding of the amount of individual funding they have and the various fees that Home Care Providers are charging for administration of the funding and case management.

Many are paying high administration fees, while also paying a lot for case management they are not receiving or may not need. More informed consumers are doubling the hours of care and support from the same Home Care Package funding amount, but sadly this is currently the minority.

Mr Cahill said Greysafe had been contacted by a number of independent aged care advisers saying they could help older Australians access more hours for the care services they need, with independent advice and without having to change the level of package they are on.

“There is a social and cost benefit to the tax payer of having older Australians cared for in their own homes as they age. The Federal Government wants to encourage self managed home care yet many of the options available to help older Australians navigate the system are inadequate or confusing.

“Consumers largely remain in the dark about consumer directed care, individualised funding and how to get more from their funding. We see consumers being better informed as necessary for the Government’s consumer directed care reforms to be truly effective, meaning they need access to easy to understand information,  independent advice and new solutions. There is no doubt that the huge waitlist for home care packages means consumers need their funding to work harder if they are to remain living at home.”

Mr Cahill said “Our solution would see the government mandate a small part of any new aged care package to be allocated to a one off payment to enable older Australians to access the pool of trained, accredited and independent advisers who can clearly communicate and help older people access the actual care services they need in their homes.

“Under this proposal, rather than potentially having a third or more of the cost of a subsidised home care package going to case management and administration costs, using the services of an the independent adviser would help consumers reduce the administration and case management fees to perhaps less than fifteen per cent of the total package, while also helping the consumer consider more affordable ways to engage the direct care and support they need

“Most importantly, more money would then be available to be used on what the person actually needs to remain at home – actual care services that improve their quality of life, rather than what is presently available to the individual.”

For further information: Mike Cahill CEO 0407 213 430