Change, choice and competition in aged care presents opportunity and risk

More than 80,000 older Australians will have greater choice in the delivery of their aged care as the ‘Increasing Choice at Home’ reforms begin on February 28.

David Martin, General Manager of HammondCare at Home, said the reforms represent a significant and exciting change to the way that services are delivered as well as providing increased choice and competition.

“In the past, service providers received a number of packages and people then applied to access a home care package,” he said. “Now the clients can choose who they want to deliver their home care services.”

Knowing what to look for

Mr Martin said while the changes increased clients’ ability to choose their own provider it was important to know what to look for in ensuring a high quality of service and care because clients now have more power to change to the provider they like.

“If you need the highest level of care available (Level 4), for example, it is important that the provider you choose has the clinical know-how and track record to provide the support you require.

“You should question what services are outsourced, the level of training of staff, and whether your provider has a local office. Other issues to consider include provision of permanent verses agency staff, 24 telephone support and access to nurses and dementia specialists - if you are thinking of changing or selecting providers,” he said.

'Race to the bottom' and 'rise of cowboys'

While the changes will mean increased competition in the sector, Mr Martin said one risk was a “race to the bottom” on pricing, and unfortunately, another risk is a "rise in cowboy" providers.

“Some providers will respond to increased competition by focusing on price, but the risk is in the quality of care provided. Others are untested and untried particularly in delivering nursing or dementia care expertise when people need it the most.

“Maximising your home care package is important and needs to be in balance with quality service delivery. Skilled and experienced care coordination, that addresses specific health and care needs, will be essential to achieving the long term outcome of supporting older Australians to live in their homes for longer.” Mr Martin said despite widespread publicity, there was understandably still some uncertainty for clients – and also the media - about what the changes meant.

“Our Hammond Support team [1800 826 166], who are experiencing high levels of inquiry, are looking forward to assisting any older person who has questions about aged care delivery in this new era.”

94 per cent client satisfaction

HammondCare at Home is the fourth largest provider of home-based aged care in Australia and in a recent independent Voice Survey achieved a 94 per cent client satisfaction rating, with a commitment to continuing to improve this level.

Media inquiries: For more information and for interviews and client stories please contact Nikki Cripps on 02 92686758.