Comparing apples with apples - the cost of home care
With the preferred choice of older people to remain living at home, more and more providers are entering the home care market. The number of providers approved to deliver government-subsidised home care packages reached 917 nationally in March – a massive increase of 42% over the last two years.
While a key concern is the chronic shortage of home care packages (nearly 130,000 older Australians are waiting to receive a package at their approved level of care, with wait times of over 12 months), a common complaint is the excessive fees charged by some home care providers.
Older people and their families have raised concerns about the lack of transparency around home care pricing, and the difficulties in being able to compare apples with apples when choosing between providers.
As of 1 July, all approved home care package providers are required to publish their prices in a new standardised pricing schedule, published on the government’s My Aged Care website.
Features of the website include the capacity to directly compare prices for common services across providers, including standard weekly hours and weekend rates, as well as other information such as notices of non-compliance or sanctions, and exit fees.
With reports of some providers using pushy techniques to sign up new customers, it is important to be able to access reliable, transparent information to help make an informed choice.
Price is only one factor when comparing providers. For my mother, who had significant memory loss, what was most important was having regular support workers who provided continuity and familiarity; reliability; and the flexibility to change days or times when needed. Also, the approach of the support workers, which focussed on what my mother could do, rather than what she couldn’t do, significantly enhanced her quality of life and enabled her to live at home with dignity.
Other factors to consider include the range of services they deliver and if they have experience supporting people with needs similar to yours.
Choosing the right provider can make all the difference to being able to stay living independently at home. Remember it is possible to change home care providers if you are not happy. It is a good idea to check if exit fees are payable. You may also be able to negotiate the basic daily fee.