Aged care providers have been by urged the Department of Health to ‘prioritise business activity over simply viewing the changes’ to My Aged Care in anticipation of high volumes of contact via the website and phone service over the coming days.

The Government’s ‘Increasing choice in home care’ reforms came into effect at midnight with consumers now able to change home care providers and less regulatory burden on providers to gain accreditation.

Key functions of My Aged Care including ‘find a service, ‘contact us’ and ‘make a referral’ are expected to be down until 8am AESDT today ahead of a new release of the portal that incorporates major changes to home care packages that came into effect at midnight.

Providers were only notified on Friday about the exact changes to the My Aged Care portal and warned it would be down all weekend as upgrades were carried out, though general information has been disseminated over the last month by the Department and the industry associations.

Amongst the changes, providers will have to complete additional data fields in the Home Care Package service finder on My Aged Care about specific service attributes and information to enable consumers and assessors to research and compare providers.

The new fields are:
– Maximum exit amount
– Language, religion and cultural specialties
– Special needs groups supported with specific reference to ATSI, care-leavers, LGBTI, parents separated from their children by forced adoption or removal, CALD, veterans, homeless or at risk of becoming homeless, financially or socially disadvantaged and people living in rural and remote areas.
– Specialised services offerings (for example vision, continence or care for people with dementia)
– Ability to link to or load a pdf of the service costs and charges through provider pricing section
– Surcharges applicable such as weekend or evening hours
– Case managed or other self-managed service offerings

While some providers have questioned the need for some of the special needs groups fields, the Minister for Aged Care told those at the roadmap forum that people who may need additional support are at risk of not receiving it if their needs are not recognised.

Any previously allocated home care places that were not occupied as at 26 February 2017 will be reclaimed by the Department and form part of the new national package inventory.

As new home care packages are released, these will be added to the national inventory along with existing packages that are vacated as people leave home care or change package levels.

Approval for care packages will continue to depend on an ACAT assessment and a consumer’s place in the national queue will take into account their relative needs and circumstances as determined by the ACAT, and the date they were approved for care.

ACSA CEO Pat Sparrow said not-for-profit aged care providers deliver about 80 per cent of home care services, and ACSA will be monitoring the roll out of the home care changes closely.

“It will be important now that we keep a close eye on the implementation and impacts so that older people are treated equitably across the country and that aged care providers can continue to operate and offer the services older people want and need,” Ms Sparrow said.

“If there are issues that need to be addressed to achieve those outcomes ACSA will have no hesitation in raising them and working to have them resolved.”

A range of resources have been developed for providers about the system changes by the Department, and support for technical enquiries regarding the system will be available from today.

The next My Aged Care system release is planned for June 2017.

Have you managed to log on to My Aged Care? Tell us what you think in the comment section below…