Taking Control: How To Best Manage Your Home Care

Posted on March 18, 2019.

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Since 2017, changes to home care mean you have more home care options, which gives you greater say in the types of support and services you choose, including who manages your care.

In aged care, case management refers to having a person who is responsible for managing all aspects of your home care services. Different organisations have different titles for the person responsible for case management: coordinators, case managers and care advisors all provide case management services. At WA’s leading aged care provider Juniper, these staff are called Client Care Advisors.

A Care Advisor assists you throughout your care journey. When you are interested in accessing home care services, a Care Advisor can discuss the care options available to you and how to be assessed to gain access to services.

When you are seeking to compare home care service providers, a Care Advisor can help you understand the different types of fees and charges and the benefits of choosing their organisation to deliver the care.

A complex system explained

Having a Care Advisor takes the stress out of organising care and services. The aged care system can be very complex, and having an experienced person helping you navigate through the maze of care and services can make a world of difference.

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A Care Advisor has a vital role: they will take the time to assess the person they care for and help develop a homecare plan that meets individual needs. Some providers have nurses on staff who can provide healthcare at home, such as conducting clinical assessments, alongside the Care Advisor.

Care Advisors help with planning for the future. They are available to help their clients with a range of care options; in particular, they are very skilled and knowledgeable in assisting with accessing support services – podiatry, home modifications, mobility aids, medical appointments, respite, physiotherapists, massages and hairdressing – if it is related to care, they can sort it out.

Be wary of a heavy case load

Home care providers have their own take on what a case manager’s role is. Some consider it to be a basic care planning role that has minimal involvement in organising outside (brought in) home care services. Some have limits on how often you can contact your coordinator, or how much time they can contribute to your care.

Some case managers have caseloads of 200 or more clients, so they may have little time to offer the best possible service, and relationships they have with their clients may seem very impersonal. The quality of personalised service may be an important consideration for you or your loved one when weighing up different providers.

In addition, different organisations have dissimilar fees for their home care packages. Some charge an administration fee and a case management fee, which may be a percentage of the package funding or a flat rate. Some, like Juniper, have incorporated case management expenses into one flat rate, called an administration fee.

What is self-managed care?

Some providers are offering self-directed (or self-managed) care which gives consumers full control to organise their home care services. So, with self-directed care, the consumer is responsible for finding the people to deliver the services (usually sourced from newspapers, online ads or brokered service providers that are available online). There are certain home care standards and requirements the provider and its staff need to meet such as police clearances, insurance and business name registration.

The government model for Australian home care requires the funding to be paid to a provider who manages the home care package. Bills for home care services are sent to the provider who pays for care from the package funding.

Self-managed care can take up more of your time, involving more decision making and worry, but because there is no case management provided, costs or fees for services are lower.

What services are available with self-directed care?

Under a self-directed home care package, a client can access the same care options as they would if they had a case manager.

It’s important to remember that, for self-directed care to be effective, the client needs to be very capable of managing their situation and navigating complex aged care systems. With family support, this is possible even when health is deteriorating, but in general it is very time consuming.

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If you or a loved one chooses to self-manage, you may miss out on the skilled services of a case manager including the professional advice on what home care services are recommended to meet your individual needs, ongoing health monitoring and support to access additional services.

When coordinating your own home care services, you are responsible for finding a replacement staff member when your support worker is sick or unable to attend. If you have low-level needs, this may not be challenge, but if you need help to get out of bed in the morning, or have time-critical medications you need assistance with, then missing a scheduled visit could be very detrimental to your well-being.

Benefits of self-management

You might consider self-directed care, as it appears to be more cost effective because you are not paying for a case manager, so there should be more money to spend on home care services. Bear in mind while it may not be worth the worry and time, with consumer-led care, the goal is that it’s your choice to make.

If you want to have someone to assist you, it’s easy to access support because when you contact an organisation to discuss a home care package they will put you in contact with a Care Advisor. An organisation like Juniper has a team of friendly Care Advisors who take the time to know their clients and families.

With a simple fee structure, no additional charges for contacting a care advisor, ringing the office to change schedules or having care plans updated when situations change, it’s worth calling the Juniper team for advice on 1300 313 000 or email homecare@juniper.org.au.