How to choose the right Home Care provider

Living independently in our own homes for as long as possible is a goal that most of us aspire to achieve.

But if you find yourself needing a little extra help with nursing or personal care or for things like shopping and garden work, a home care provider may be exactly what you need.

For many seniors, having some form of care provided in their home is a god send and the government provides generous Home Care Package subsidies to help you set it up.

However, with so many providers out there the process can seem a bit daunting when you are first starting out. So to provide you with some assistance, we have put together this handy little guide of how to choose the right home care provider.

Follow these steps and you should be able to find a provider that offers you a high standard of service and really takes the time to understand and meet your particular needs.

1. Start by Getting Assessed

Before you start comparing different Home Care Package providers, you need to get an assessment of your financial situation and care needs. To begin the process, you must register with My Aged Care, which is a government service providing access to the aged care system in Australia, including in-home support.

You can call My Aged Care on 1800 200 422 or apply for an assessment online. Alternatively, a family member or friend can complete the application on your behalf. Once you apply, My Aged Care will arrange for a health professional to meet with you to discuss your medical history, current health and lifestyle to determine what type of home care services you may require.

You will also need to complete an income assessment to let the government know how much, if anything, you can afford to contribute towards the costs of your care.

2. Understand Your Home Care Package

After completing your Aged Care Assessment, you will receive a letter that will inform you if you are eligible for a care package from My Aged Care Home. This is an entitlement of government-funded care and services that is designed to provide support to help you continue living independently at your own home for as long as you can.

Overall, there are four different levels of Home Care Packages available. The level you are approved for will depend on the level of care you require, for example low, medium or high level. Before you start to contact Home Care Package providers, it is important to understand the kind of care you will receive, the value of your package, and how many care hours you can expect to be granted.

3. List Your Care Needs

When searching for a new service, it’s important to consider what you are looking for. This may include the language, gender, experience, culture, and consistency of staff, as well as the availability of day, evening and weekend services, and the suite of services provided, for instance, occupational therapy, physiotherapy or gardening.

It is important to note that different providers may potentially offer services that are more affordable and flexible than others. For instance, you may require meal preparation, nursing or personal care, occupational therapy or specialised assistance for conditions like dementia.

In addition to your physical health, you may also require social, spiritual or cultural support. Therefore, if you are clear about your care needs, you will be better able to understand how different Home Care Package providers may be able to support you and meet your specific needs.

4. Shortlist Home Care Package Providers in Your Locality

The best way to establish which Home Care Packages accept government subsidies is to visit the My Aged Care website and use the ‘Find a Provider’ tool.

After submitting your search enquiry, the results will generate a list of Home Care Package providers that may be suitable for your particular needs. You will then be able to find out more about them, including their specific locations and compare their features and benefits using the comparison tool.

The feature will also provide cost breakdowns, contact information and a list of their services.

5. Compare Home Care Package Costs

When choosing a provider of Home Care Packages you should be mindful of the different fees you can accrue. While most of these fees will be taken straight out of your entitlement, others you might have to pay for yourself.

Overall, there are three different types of fees you might be required to fund yourself. These are an income test care fee, a basic daily fee and additional fees. Both the basic daily and income tested care fees are set by the government, with the former currently being a maximum of $11.26 per day. However, not all providers extend this fee to you.

The income tested care fee may require you to make additional contributions based on their particular financial situation. That said, if you are a full pensioner, you are not required to pay this fee.

The additional fees are any other figure you might be charged for extra services and care that are not covered already by your Home Care Package.

Some of the fees you may need to pay via your Home Care Package are establishment and exit fees, care and package management fees and services fees. Some, but not all, providers might hit you with a one-off cost when you begin or leave Home Care Package service.

In terms of the package management and care management fees, you’ll find that most providers do extend these costs to you. So, it is worth you comparing how much they will cost you. Broadly speaking, package management covers the admin side of things including activities like compliance, quality assurance and preparing monthly statements. By contrast, care management relates to the co-ordination of the care you need, which incorporates the creation and regular review of your care plans.

Typically, service fees vary depending on who you choose as a provider and when they will deliver the services to you. However, you will be able to quickly and easily compare the costs of services like nursing, cleaning, personal care and gardening, via the comparison tool found on the My Aged Care website. Generally these show up as an hourly rate.

6. Check Experience

Over the last few years several new players have entered the Home Care Providers market, making it extremely competitive.

Subsequently, you should take the time to properly review any organisation you are shorlisting. Make sure you evaluate their staff’s experience, customer reviews and testimonials and for how long within the aged care sector they have been operation.

7. Interview Home Care Providers

When you have developed a clear appreciation of what services you require, you can begin to talk to providers of Home Care Packages to ascertain if they will be able to give you the help you need.

When doing this, it is important to ask the following questions of them:

  • How do their home care services align with your needs?
  • Do they employ their own staff or use an agency?
  • How do they ensure you will get consistent care workers?
  • How often do the coordinators of care speak with or visit clients?
  • What is the required level of training for their care coordinators and their care staff?
  • How regularly are care plans evaluated and reviewed?

8. Ensure They Accept Your Government Funding

Should you be looking for providers of home care that operate outside My Aged Care, you should be mindful that not all of them accept subsidies from the government.

In such circumstances, you might need to use personal funds to pay for their costs and services.

9. Check The Provider Meets Care Quality Standards

It is mandatory for all providers of Home Care Packages to meet a set of eight standards which have been established by the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission.

Make a point of seeing the results of their quality evaluations, by using the My Aged Care search and comparison tool. You would also be well advised to talk to a provider to establish how they ensure compliance across their entire delivery of care.

10. Establish Costs and Timeline of Your Care

After you have identified a shortlist of providers of Home Care Packages that align with your preferences and needs, it is important to talk to them to establish a timeline and the actual costs you will incur.

Keep in mind that some providers may have a waiting period that you need to take into account. Additionally, they might also waive certain fees, which can result in you receiving significant savings.

It might take a bit of time, but by doing due diligence to sort out all the details, you should confidently be able to choose the right provider for your needs.