Getting to grips with Consumer Directed Care

Consumer Directed Care represents a new era for the delivery of in-home care services. But what does it all mean? Here’s a snapshot guide to get you up to speed. 

As the name suggests, Consumer Directed Care (CDC) is designed to give a greater say to those in need of home care about what services they receive and how they receive them.

CDC will build some flexibility and practicality into a system that, up until now, was too rigid. To understand how Consumer Directed Care works, let’s firstly recap on what home care involves.

Empowering you to stay in your own home
The notion of home care services is to provide a way for people to remain in their own home as long as possible. This means retaining as much independence as possible, but bringing in external support for the things that the person is no longer able to do themselves, such as cleaning, washing, cooking, transport and gardening.

It may also include personal and health services, such as assistance with bathing, dressing and nursing care.

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Live as independently as possible in your own home with in-home care and services

Consumer Directed Care refers to the way in which the decisions are made about which services are needed, who will perform them, and when they will be delivered. For the first time, the consumer will be at the centre of this process.

Assessing needs and creating a plan
A formal Aged Care Assessment still needs to be performed to assess needs and eligibility for assistance for home care costs. A care plan is then developed that will take into account the support you may already be receiving from your partner, family and other community services. The aspects of care that are not covered by these parties can be sourced from professional care service provider.

So, who pays for what?
Once a person is assessed as being eligible for receiving home care, they are generally eligible for government support on costs. There is also a requirement for the person to contribute at least a prescribed ‘basic daily care fee’ and perhaps a greater proportion of the cost if they have the means to do so (assessed via an income test).

The level of subsidy will also depend on the level of care you are assessed as needing, (basically broken down into four ‘package levels’). The person may also choose to negotiate an additional voluntary payment for extra services beyond the standard levels of care.

If a family member is taking responsibility for your care, then they may also be able to access financial support in the form of:

  • A Carer’s Payment – if the carer is foregoing paid employment in order to provide care
  • A Carer’s Allowance – to supplement the age pension if the carer has reached retirement age.

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A basic daily care fee covers living costs such as meals, laundry and electricity

Your care 'budget'
As part of the new Consumer Directed Care approach, the consumer will not only have a direct say in what services they want brought in, they will also be involved in working out how the subsidies they receive will be budgeted to pay for those services.

The care provider will discuss this at the time the care plan is being drawn up and the consumer will be able to see exactly where the money is being directed, in the form of a personalised budget. This empowers the person receiving care to take on ownership for the management of their care plan. The management of the budget will be provided by the organisation that is providing the home care services.

A monthly income and expense statement will keep the consumer informed about how the budget is progressing, so they can make informed decisions and make any changes they feel necessary.

Competition is good for the consumer
The shift to giving the consumer more of a direct control will ultimately extend to giving them choice over which service providers they want to use. By February 2017, it will be possible for consumers to shift providers if they choose.

This will naturally create greater competition among providers and should drive up the quality of services they offer, as they seek to win consumer loyalty. This competitive aspect should also put downward pressure on costs.

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Get flexibilty and choice in the direction of your future with CDC

Combating the baby boomer cost blow out
Part of the strategy behind the Consumer Directed Care regime is to manage the potential for government budget blow outs caused by the large proportion of ageing baby boomers who will be demanding such services.

The government sees a market-driven approach as being part of the solution to this budgetary threat, rather than treating aged care cost as purely a welfare issue.

The expected increase in competition, coupled with the reduction in bureaucratic red tape, will hopefully make the whole system more affordable for the government while supporting quality of care.

The roll out
As from 1 July this year, all home care packages must be delivered on a Consumer Directed Care basis. The transition in the way funding arrangements are made between the government and the care providers, however, will not be completed until February 2017.

At that point the funding for Home Care Packages will “follow the consumer”, meaning consumers will be allowed to both choose and change their provider at their discretion.

For further information on home care packages and the consumer directed care system, go to myagedcare.gov.au.

Do you or a family member access home care services? Tell us your experiences in dealing with service providers and what you think about the new CDC regime. Join the conversation.