Secure your home care funding before 27 February to avoid missing out

There is no guarantee that individuals in Western Australia who need care will be able to immediately access government funding in the future. At Home Services General Manager Deb Patterson explains.

With funding changes just around the corner, people already assessed as eligible for a home care package are encouraged to secure funding for their services before 27 February to avoid any chance of missing out.

At present, if you have undergone an ACAT assessment and are eligible for a home care package, you can apply to receive a package and government funding to subsidise the cost of your services. The service provider you use will depend on which organisation has a vacancy for the level of home care package you require.

From 27 February, this system will change to one where the customer can choose any provider. This is the much vaunted ‘consumer directed care’ (CDC) approach to care. However, a second major change to the way home packages are allocated to eligible customers will also be introduced from this date. Unsuspecting customers who don’t act before 27 February may be caught out.

Currently, packages and funding are secured when you apply to enter a home care agreement and receive services from a provider. In the new system however, each person eligible for a home care package but yet to take up a package and receive services, will go into a national list managed by My Aged Care. Individuals will be contacted when a package at a suitable level becomes available, but there is no limit to how long this may take. The time you wait before you are assigned a home care package is based on your needs and circumstances, as well as the time you have spent waiting for care. In other words, you may not be able to immediately access government funding despite being eligible – the government list will decide this.

Additionally, while there is currently funding for home care packages allocated specifically to WA customers, there is no guarantee as to the proportion of funding to be allocated for WA customers entering home care after 27 February. The funding may instead go to customers in other states whose care needs may be deemed ‘higher’.

To avoid missing out, people already eligible for a home care package should consider securing a package and elect to receive services before the changes come into effect on 27 February.

We know that many people delay accessing services – as many as 40% wait more than three months, for varying reasons. This delay could be the difference between immediate access to services versus the prospect of joining a very long queue.

At this point in time, no one is sure exactly how the changes will impact Western Australians.  If you can secure a package and have services in place before the changes come into effect, it will guarantee you receive the funding and services you require. Baptistcare still has packages available from level 1 through to level 4.

Even today, if you are eligible for a high-level home care package (levels 3 and 4), you may not be able to access a home care package at the moment due to the limited availability of providers with these packages. In this situation, you may benefit from taking a lower level home care package (level 1 or 2) instead and start receiving services before 27 February, with the view to upgrading to a higher-level package later when one becomes available. This will mean you are guaranteed to receive some level of support and funding without the uncertainty of having to wait for a package to become available after 27 February.