Once you’ve signed your Home Care Agreement, it’s time to relax and to take advantage of the support you’re receiving. You can help make sure things run smoothly by:
- knowing how to work with your provider
- using your Monthly Statement to keep an eye on your finances
- knowing your rights and responsibilities
- making sure you’re getting value for money.
Working well with your provider will help you to get the most out of your package.
Checking roles and responsibilities
Your Home Care Agreement outlines the roles and responsibilities of you and your provider. If you’re unsure about who should be doing what, it’s a good idea to check your agreement – especially if you are partly self-managing your package.
Working with provider staff
The purpose of your Home Care Package is to help you stay well and independent for as long as possible. Continuing to do as much for yourself as you can manage helps you to stay healthy and maintain your independence.
If you would like, workers who come in to do a job can work alongside you to get things done. For example, you could dust or wipe down benches or basins while the worker does the heavy work. This can help to keep you active and have some real benefits for you physically and mentally.
Working with your case manager
From time to time, your case manager will contact you to find out how you are going, if your circumstances have changed or if you have any questions or suggestions. Your Home Care Agreement will say how often this will happen. If you have questions or concerns, write them down so that you can raise them with your case manager.
You also have the right to contact your provider at any time to talk about any issues to do with your Home Care Package.
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Each month, your provider should give you a clear written statement which details your package:
- income, including your contributions and the government contribution
- itemised expenditures, including charges for services received and any other charges such as administration and case management fees
- balance and the unspent funds, including any contingency fund.
Some providers bundle charges together into one hourly rate (called a ‘unit cost’). You can ask for an explanation of how they have come to this amount and a breakdown of the costs.
Check your monthly statement when you receive it, and contact your provider if anything is unclear. It’s easier to fix problems if you spot them early.
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You, your family and your carers have both rights and responsibilities, as does your service provider.
Your rights and responsibilities
You have the right to:
- receive quality services
- be treated with courtesy, dignity and respect
- be actively involved in decision-making
- transparency about fees and budgeting
- receive care and support in a way that respects you, including your gender identity, sexual orientation and intersex status, your cultural background and your spirituality
- have information provided to you in a language you understand
- have your services reviewed
- information to assist with making comments or complaints
- privacy and confidentiality of personal information.
Your responsibilities are to:
- respect the rights of home care workers
- give your provider enough correct information to develop your Care Plan and Home Care Agreement
- follow the terms and conditions of your Home Care Agreement, including paying fees
- allow safe and reasonable access for home care staff at the times and places set out in your Home Care Agreement.
Your provider’s rights and responsibilities
Your provider has the responsibility to:
- ensure your rights are respected, including meeting legal requirements on safety and security, service quality, staff and procedures
- provide you with the information you need to make your own decisions.
Like you, your provider and their staff also have the right to be treated with fairness, courtesy and respect.
Your rights and responsibilities are explained in the Charter of Care Recipients’ Rights and Responsibilities – Home Care, which is available in several languages. Your provider will give you a copy as part of your Home Care Agreement.
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Direct services, goods and equipment
It can be worth comparing your provider’s charges for services, goods and equipment to what you could buy privately.
For example, some people use their package funds for allied health services, but find better value for other services, like garden maintenance and cleaning, in the private market.
Administration and case management fees
Administration and case management fees vary between providers. Although the government caps the Income-Tested Care Fee, it doesn’t control other provider fees.
You can ask other providers for a list of their fees and compare these with what your provider charges. Be aware that some providers charge a higher ‘unit cost’, which is all-inclusive, whereas others have a lower unit cost but add administration and case management fees on top.
Weighing up home care vs residential aged care
Home care services allow you to stay at home for longer. Investing in home care services may save you money in the long term by helping you avoid residential aged care, which can be expensive.
Independent financial advice
If you’re concerned about finances, the government’s Financial Information Service can give you free, confidential and independent financial advice. Call 132 300 and when prompted, say ‘Financial Information Service’.
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