Australia’s future home-care program to provide services to people ageing in the community risks being stymied without more consultation, the nation’s aged care provider peak body has argued.
Leading Aged Services Australia has called for greater engagement and co-design of the future Support at Home Program.
The LASA Research Report Home Care Price Regulation and Market Stewardship said the current piloting, assessment and classification of the proposed program needed more home care providers in the co-design and co-production.
“Poor sector engagement, whereby providers encounter continued frustration in contributing to the design and production process hinders the realisation of reform progression responsive to the aspirations of older Australians in the context of fiscal pressures associated with an ageing population,” the report said.
“Critical reflection on the design and production of the Support at Home Program suggests that the level of sector engagement by [the Department of Health] in this process has been met with frustration.”
Following recommendations from the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety this year, the Australian Government is moving to overhaul the funding and governance of the sector to a needs-based system.
This includes creating a single Support at Home program to replace the Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP), Home Care Packages (HCP) Program, Short-Term Restorative Care Programme (STRC), and other respite packages from July 2023.
LASA called for service approvals at a higher level to their likely use in order to reduce demand for reassessments and the requirement for needs-based entitlements.
They also want the fixed unit subsidy allocation, means-tested co-contributions and market-based unit level provider pricing to meet supply and demand variations.
LASA is also seeking price and outcome transparency above the quality-regulatory requirements and flexibility in the legislative and program environment to recognise the variable market environment in which future in-home care and supports must be provided.
“LASA argues that the proposed quality regulation reform measures along with the enhancement of existing quality regulation and system administration structures do not go far enough,” the peak body report said.
The peak body argues there is strong market variability in the home care market, which drives cost variability.
“While LASA and its Members stand firmly in support of increased price transparency as part of the future Support at Home Program, it is critical that price transparency occurs alongside the transparency of care-recipient experiences and outcomes to be achieved relative to pricing,” the report said.
“Market stewardship needs to include reporting of care-recipient experiences and outcomes concurrent to an increased focus on price transparency in justifying market-based price positioning and to inform thin market intervention.”
As consultation continues for the program, the Australian Government has outlined its $23.5 million design program for Support at Home.
Still underway, they have vowed to conduct research and consultation with senior Australians, carers, assessors, home care providers and peak body organisations to inform the program and its evaluation.
This includes “consultation with stakeholders regarding business and service delivery model design”.