The future of aged care is in your hands

From July 1 2015, all home care packages will be delivered as consumer-directed-care packages. So, what exactly is consumer directed care?

Trish Noakes, founder of Just Better Care, one of Australia’s leading in-home support providers dissects the tricky world of the aged care system. 

In the past the aged care system in the past was a bit like a boat at sea in the middle of a dense fog with no lights to navigate the way forward. Most of us had no idea where to start when we needed help. There were various access points for many different programs with variations in the quality of services plus delays and constraints due to long waiting lists.

How things were
It has also been a system with limited offerings essentially focusing on set tasks that may not have been what they wanted or even beneficial to the person. People who received these services had no say in how they were delivered and it almost seemed like they should be grateful for the help. This inflexible, inequitable and confusing system needed reforming to meet the needs of older Australians who are living longer and generally want to remain independent and in control of how and where they live. People also want to stay connected to their families and be involved in their communities wherever possible.

Moving forward
The move toward Consumer Directed Care started over five years ago when Government commenced a major review of the aged care system. Consultation with various peak groups around the country identified the many inherent problems and suggested solutions. Overseas models of care were also examined as to what worked and what didn’t. Through the inquiry process it became evident that older Australians want to be able to exercise choice regarding the care and supports they receive and live the life they desire for themselves. This led Government to identify that the best way to deliver support services was through a Consumer Directed Care (CDC) model.

CDC is basically about people over the age of 65 maintaining their strengths and abilities and doing as much as possible for themselves for as long as possible. This focus is about “wellness” and identifying the things that matter to each person which will provide the ingredients to a good life.

Support in place
CDC provides people with the ability to decide on what their support plan will look like and what goals are important for them. For instance I know one lady with very little eyesight due to macular degeneration. She was not interested in how clean the house was. She wanted someone to come in and read her letters written by her husband during the war and who had since passed away. These memories were so important to her emotional wellbeing.

Everyone is different in their needs and what is important for their life. For some people they may need assistance with meals and shopping. For someone else they may feel isolated and lonely and they want to be able to attend some community function or watch a game of bowls game. Someone else may want help learning how to use a computer so they can stay in touch with family and friends and someone else may need some aids and equipment to assist them living in their home. It’s about having flexible solutions that a person on a CDC package can access.

How it works
On the 1st July this year all Home Care Packages were converted to Consumer Directed Care. There is now a central access point of information through the My Aged Care website which is aimed at making it easier for people to find out how to access assistance when they need it. Information about support packages, fees, eligibility and Approved Providers is on this site.

Assessment for eligibility is still managed through ACAT (aged care assessment team). The My Aged Care site will assist in this process for setting up an assessment. The waiting lists for someone assessed as eligible for a CDC package exist however as there are insufficient CDC packages available for the number of people who need them. More packages are due to be released later this year.

Under CDC people’s income will be assessed and a higher contribution towards the package will be paid if people have the means to pay. Level 1 and 2 packages are low level assistance packages and some people are choosing not to take them up because of the contribution they will have to pay. They are opting to pay privately and not enter the Government system.

Looking forward to 2017
The future of CDC will evolve as people become more savvy regarding their rights and how to get the most out of their packages. If they are not happy with providers they can move to another provider if they have availability. From 1st February 2017 CDC packages will be allocated to the person themselves rather then the current situation where the provider holds the package.

This change that occurs in 2017 will really open the doors to stronger competition amongst providers and more service offerings entering the market trying to attract CDC customers. There is no promise yet from Government as to when the rationed system of packages will cease and there are adequate resources for all people assessed as being eligible for a package. It is estimated there will be 100,000 packages in the system by 2017.

It is clear that Government wants to support older Australians desire to remain living in their own home for as long as possible. CDC will assist in this but will not cover all that is needed. There are many people who are isolated. We need the community to become more accessible so that older Australians are not disadvantaged in this wonderful chapter in life.

What do you think about the CDC? Join our conversation below…