Francene’s story: Consumer Directed Care in action

Today, the overwhelming desire for many Australians is to remain at home and active in their community as they age.

But with gaining access to aged care services often a confusing and expensive process, finding the right support to age well remains a universal challenge.

In July 2015, the government recognised that ‘ageing well’ means different things to different people, introducing a concept called Consumer Directed Care, designed to put consumers in the driver’s seat when making choices about the types of services they want to access as they age.

But over a year on, many people are still unclear about what Consumer Directed Care (CDC) means and how it can help them to get the most value out of the government funding they’re entitled to.


Consumers in the driver’s seat

Put simply, Consumer Directed Care means that an individual receiving government funding is now given an annual budget and the right to use this budget to purchase the services they need.

For many people who are able to remain in their own home, this government funding comes in the form of a ‘Home Care Package’ – which is an annual amount allocated to an individual based on an assessment of their needs. Packages are offered across four different care levels – ranging from level one (basic care needs) to four (high care needs).

Traditionally, home care providers would bid to the government for this funding, on-selling bundled packages to consumers which contained little in the way of transparency around how much they were being charged for the care provided.

Under CDC, Home Care Package providers must now give consumers more choice and control over how their package is used – for the first time, enabling people to shop around for the types of services they want, and find the right price to ensure their funding goes further.

A revolution in home care

The change is making a material difference to people like Francene, who uses Better Caring to hire local care workers directly to provide care for her ageing mother.

As a recipient of a Level 4 Home Care Package, Francene’s mother was entitled to $48,184 a year – an amount which delivered her just 11 hours of care a week through her home care provider.

Under CDC, her provider was obliged to advise exactly how the funds were being spent via an individualised budget and monthly statements – revealing that over 30% was being lost to administration and case management fees – and that the care itself was charged at $48 an hour.

For Francene, these huge costs came as a revelation. While her home care provider must still manage the funds on her behalf, with this knowledge, Francene managed to strike a better deal – negotiating a lower administration fee and finding her own independent care workers through Better Caring at just $30 an hour.

The result for her mother was a doubling of the amount of care she could afford each week, a better quality of life and increasing opportunities for her to remain active and engage with the community.

More flexibility to come

In addition to Consumer Directed Care, from February 2017, consumers will also have the ability to move their Home Care Package to a different provider entirely – giving even greater scope for informed consumers to make smart money decisions.

In this new world of choice and control, it will be the informed consumer who will have the greatest opportunity to age on their own terms.

I’ve been using the Better Caring platform to engage workers to provide care and support to my mother for the past 16 months, initially paying privately and now half funded with my mother’s Level 4 Government home care package. By working with a progressive home care provider and Better Caring, my mother has twice the hours of care per week than I was offered by traditional approved home care providers, while the workers are earning more. And my mother and I can choose and schedule the workers to suit us. I am really impressed with the way Better Caring is set up to look after the person needing care and the care worker.Francene

Our stories