How to choose a home care provider is a task many ageing Australians, those living with (dis)ability and their families will face. Realising you need a little (or a lot) of extra support to remain in your own home and maintain your independence, can be a big decision for those, who have up until now, managed living independently and safely in their own home.
The challenge of having to trust a stranger to come into your home can be overwhelming at first, however, thoroughly researching and shortlisting a number of home care providers that best match your needs, and then refining that list based on your individual priorities, care needs, budget and location, will have you arrive at a well-informed decision.
Each home care provider will provide services slightly differently and may charge different costs. As the consumer your goal of continuing to live safely, independently and healthily should be the focus when choosing your provider. To help make this process easier, we’ve put together a list of important things you and your family should consider.
Are they an approved home care, NDIS, TAC and WorkSafe provider?
When looking at how to choose a home care provider, this is a very important consideration. For the purposes of receiving the highest standard of care, you should only be considering home care providers who are approved by their governing bodies.
- Aged care providers must satisfy a number of criteria to be approved, in order to be eligible to receive an Australian Government subsidy to deliver aged care and services under the Aged Care Act.
- The NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission (NDIS Commission) is responsible for the registration requirements providers must meet to become registered and maintain registration with the NDIS Commission, the regulation of NDIS providers and those seeking to become registered NDIS providers.
- The TAC and WorkSafe Victoria require healthcare professionals to be registered with their state or national registration board, to comply with all responsibilities relating to their profession or service, and comply with all relevant legislative requirements.
Do they have any sanctions or notices of non-compliance served against them as a provider?
Use the MyAgedCare Non-compliance Checker to learn if the Home Care Package service provider has received a notice of non–compliance or a sanction. You can learn more about home care provider compliance under the NDIS here. For individual healthcare providers check the national registration agency AHPRA.
What processes are in place for complaints?
Does the home care provider have a framework for handling complaints? Sometimes issues arise between consumers and the provider delivering them services. It is important that those receiving care and support services have the right to complain and know the avenue through which to process a complaint. The right of a client to lodge a complaint and/or grievance about a service is fundamental to empowering and supporting consumers. Home care providers must provide a framework for handling complaints through its complaints policy and procedures outlining the rights and responsibilities of its workforce. Consumers of all services in the home should be made aware of a provider’s framework for handling complaints and encouraged to raise their grievances and concerns as an essential component of quality improvement.
If a consumer feels they have not had their complaint adequately managed, each governing body overseeing service provision can then be engaged. For complaints in the:
- Aged Care sector refer to the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission
- NDIS refer to the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission
- TAC refer to Complaints and Compliments
- WorkSafe refer to Make a Complaint
All home care providers must meet price transparency requirements, including publishing their prices on the My Aged Care website, ideally on their own website and providing their care recipients with their current pricing schedule. The Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care states that price transparency helps ageing Australians to better understand the service offerings and more easily compare the prices of different providers.
The NDIS publishes its service fees online under its Pricing Arrangements and for those participants who want to be Plan Managed, the NDIS will include funding in your plan to pay for your plan manager. This is in addition and seperate to the support budget in your plan.
Be fully informed about what fees each provider charges. Some providers charge a set-up fee, exit fees, management and administrative fees, daily care fees, care service providers fee, surcharge fee for using sub-contractors and income tested fees. Make sure you know up-front how much you are going to be charged and how much you will have left in your budget to pay for the services and supports you need.
Do they provide any specialist services?
Specialist services are services that require healthcare staff who have additional and specialist training in certain areas of practice, such as dementia care. If you need specialist services provided you must qualify this with the home care providers to ensure all of your needs will be met.
Do they cater for diverse needs such as language and faith based requirements?
Knowing how to choose a home care provider who meets your care needs as well as your lifestyle needs. All providers should cater to the needs of the following groups:
- people from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities
- people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds
- people who are financially or socially disadvantaged
- people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless
- care leavers
- parents separated from their children by forced adoption or removal
- lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and/or intersex (LGBTI) people and
- people who live in rural or remote areas.
Will you be locked into a contract for services?
Once you have chosen a home care provider you will be provided with a Home Care Agreement which is the legal agreement between you and your chosen service provider. Informed by your care plan, it sets out how your services will be provided, who will provide them, and how much they will cost. The majority of aged care in the home providers do not lock consumers into a contract for services. However, this is something worth confirming prior to entering into a home care agreement.
Under the NDIS, once you have decided upon a service provider, you may be provided with a service agreement that outlines the agreed supports that will be provided, the costs of the supports, any additional costs such as travel or the writing of reports, how, when and where supports will be delivered, the rights and responsibilities of both the provider and the participant and the rules around ending a service agreement. It is important to note that service agreements are not lock-in contracts but they will outline the notice period – be it 7, 14 or at most 28 days – required to end the agreement.
Do they guarantee qualified, experienced and caring staff?
To become an aged care worker, the minimum standard qualification is the Certificate III in Individual Support and for career progression care workers can undertake the Certificate IV in Ageing Support. To become an aged care nurse a Bachelor of Nursing is the minimum qualification required, followed by registration with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia.
In Australia, there are no required certifications for disability support workers, however, those support workers who have completed a Certificate III in Individual Support (Disability) will be better prepared to provide individualised, person-centred support. A Certificate IV in Disability provides support workers a higher level of competence in disability support, enabling them to work in a supervisory or more specialised roles.
For all independent health practitioners in Australia, there are minimum degree standards of education, in addition to post-graduate and specialist qualifications.
Do they employ and use their own staff or sub-contractors?
Providers who employ their own staff have an extra layer of control over the important aspects of staff qualifications, training and experience. Using sub-contractors, has in recent times due to the COVID pandemic, become more frequent and unavoidable. However, it is worth confirming with the home care provider you are looking into whether they use mostly sub-contractors as this may incur additional costs to you as the consumer.
Do staff undertake regular in-house training?
Regular in-house training and access to Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is an integral part of keeping care and disability support workers and nurses current and confident in their skills. Research shows that “engaging in CPD is central to the professional development of nurses and midwives and necessary to deliver high quality, safe, effective and person-centred care”.
Hopefully this list will provide some insight into the things you should consider in the process of choosing a home care provider to meet your care needs. With the goal of maintaining your independence and enabling you to remain in the comfort of your own home, this checklist will help ensure you ask the right questions relevant to your individual situation and have peace of mind making an informed choice.
If you would like to find out more about how to choose a home care provider and how Colbrow Care can help you meet your care needs, call one of our friendly team members on 1300 33 11 03