Consumer Directed Care - What No Podiatry!
My Mum is one of the lucky older Australians to be accessing a level 2 Home Care Package (HCP). Many people are not so lucky. Although being assessed as eligible, thousands of people are still waiting over 12 months before being allocated their level 2, 3 or 4 HCP subsidy, but that's another story!
The HCP Program is based on a consumer directed care model, meaning consumers have the right to choice and control over how and when their HCP funded services are delivered by their chosen aged care provider. This is a major change from how many aged care providers have approached service delivery in the past. Mum's recent experience with her aged care provider, one of the largest and most trusted brands, demonstrates that even one of the largest aged care providers does not always take a consumer directed approach.
At 93 Mum is happy to live independently, with the support of a range of home care services. Just recently she received a letter from her aged care provider to say her home podiatry services had been suspended due to staff shortages. The letter referred Mum to her local GP to source another podiatry service under an alternative government allied health program.
Like many people of Mum's generation she didn't question whether alternative arrangements could be brokered through her aged care provider. Instead Mum attempted to fix her own feet, with limited success, and was resigned to putting up with a little more discomfort until a family member was available to help with visiting her GP.
Being an informed consumer, and being assertive, is not necessarily a typical characteristic of our senior cohort – in fact, many are likely to feel grateful for whatever they get, being too polite to complain, or ask for something else. Mum had the right to request her aged care provider to secure a replacement podiatry service under a brokered arrangement.
Since the introduction of the HCP Program there has been strong growth in the number of aged care providers offering home care services, the My Aged Care website currently lists 68 providers Mum could now choose from. If we were starting out on Mum's aged care journey again we would pay more attention to whether her preferred aged care provider demonstrated a consumer directed approach and had the resources available to take a responsive, collaborative and flexible approach to service delivery.
Go to Live Well Longer - ageing at home free resource Getting the Most Out of Your Home Care Package
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