• Jenni Perkins

Choosing the right home care provider

Increasingly the preferred choice of older people is to remain living at home as they age, leading to a boom in the home care business. More and more providers are entering the market, which now includes large for-profit businesses, traditional non-government providers and emerging small businesses.

While this is providing more choice for older people and their families, some providers are using pushy techniques to sign up new clients, including door-to-door sales, and it can be confusing knowing how to choose the best provider to suit your particular needs.

Whether you are looking for a provider for your government subsidised Home Care Package, or seeking to privately purchase services, do your research first. A good place to start is through friends and word of mouth. Cost is not the only factor that you might want to consider.

Key factors that were important to my 92 year-old mother and myself included the commitment and value base of her support workers, which meant that my mother was valued and respected as an individual; having the same support workers which provided continuity and familiarity; and the flexibility to change the service delivery days or times when needed.

The home care coordinator always responded promptly, and her willingness to engage with the family and my mother meant that we always felt we were on the same page and working as a team to support my mother to live at home with dignity.

Other factors to consider include whether they can deliver the range of services that you want; whether you have choice over when the services are delivered and by whom; what happens if you need to change or cancel your support; whether it will be the same person each time; and if they have had experience with people with needs similar to yours.

There can be wide variations in charges, and it pays to compare fees and charges. As of last month it is compulsory for home care package providers to publish their fees online. This information can be found on the Government’s My Aged Care website, along with information on providers found non-compliant against quality standards.

When looking at the cost, check what the hourly rates are during the week, after hours, on weekends and on public holidays. Also check what the charge will be for administration or coordination of your support. If you have a subsidised Home Care Package, ask if the provider will negotiate the basic daily fee, and how much it would cost to privately purchase additional hours of service. Also, if you want to change providers, check if there are any exit fees.

Choosing the right provider can make all the difference to your care experience. It is worth remembering that even if you are accessing a government subsidised Home Care Package, you can select the provider of your choice, and you can change providers if you are not happy.

For more tips, go to Live Well Longer - ageing at home free resource 'Considerations when choosing a home care provider'.

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