What are the Pros and Cons of the new Support at Home Program?

In July 2024, one single Support at Home Program will replace the Commonwealth Home Support Programme, Home Care Packages, and the Short Term Restorative Care Program.

In the summer edition of the Aged Care Today Magazine, published by the Aged & Community Care Providers Association, the pros and cons of this unified Support at Home Program were weighed by Dr Rachael Lewis, a lecturer at the UNSW Business School, and a Founding Member of the UTS Ageing Research Collaborative.

On the ‘pro’ side of the reforms, Dr Lewis mentions that the “new, fee-for-service model” will enable older Australians “the freedom to choose from a range of approved providers.”

She also praises the new Integrated Assessment process, noting that it will provide “a single, simplified pathway for access to subsidised aged care services,” and believes that “the inclusion of restorative care as a dedicated category within the Classification Framework has the potential to open up access to these valuable services to a greater number of older people.”

As for ‘cons’, Dr Lewis considers that there may be potentially be some problems with the Support at Home Program.

First, Dr Lewis wonders how difficult it might be for clients to hold individual providers to account, when they are receiving services from multiple providers.

Second, she wonders who will be responsible for delivering good service outcomes, when assessors, care managers, and service providers all play a part?

Third, she wonders how fixed prices can be a viable option, when the cost of services for some providers (such as those in regional, rural, and remote areas) is so much higher?

Finally, Dr Lewis questions how the new program can be sustainably funded, when nearly 90% of home-care costs are currently borne by tax-payers.

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