Home' Australian Ageing Agenda : AAA Nov-Dec 2014 Contents Sally Farrow
IF I NEED information
or advice on aged
care, I should log on
to My Aged Care,
the government's TV
advertisements tell me.
I visit the website
from a professional and
with both my family
members and my
clients in mind.
On the site I find
a lot of information about how
to arrange funded care, the
contribution costs, and how to
apply to have care fees reduced.
Don't get me wrong, My Aged
Care is a great step forward. But
the reality is, the website isn't
living up to its promise of being a
"one stop shop" for information
because, as it currently stands,
there are some key resources
missing that would benefit a lot of
people I know.
We are incredibly fortunate to
be able to boast of our ageing
population -- a product of
decades of advances in medical
and social care. However, as has
been extensively documented,
the ageing population comes with
increased pressure on the public
finances and our health system.
Therefore, is there not an
argument to be made for self-
funded retirees to be encouraged
and supported to contribute to
their own care as they see fit?
After a lifetime of working
hard to fund their financial
freedom in order to have true
consumer choice in retirement,
many seniors are happy to pay
for services because they want
transparency - just
like with any other
they have been able
to purchase all of
has driven the
evolution to consumer
directed care (CDC)
home care packages
in the government-
funded home care space. It is
intended to deliver choice, but it
nonetheless has limitations that
are frustrating to people seeking
true flexibility, choice and service
Although not everyone has the
means to access private services,
aged services providers and
policy makers must understand
how they can be utilised as
standalone services, and also
in small doses to top up hours
in conjunction with government-
Many of the seniors who use
our services do not have any
desire to go through a means
testing process. They have
never had any interaction with
Centrelink, and don't intend to
start in their senior years.
Seniors use our services
because they want to be able
to choose their own staff,
service provider, exact service
time, payment type, and
communications methods. They
want transparent invoicing and
holistic services that offer choice
Case management is often
included and this can support
families in navigating health
changes and decision making.
I regularly receive phone calls
from families who cannot believe
that they could simply pay for
care or nursing service if they
needed it urgently, or wanted to
have a high level of control or
comfort in their home.
They are confused and
frustrated after spending hours
on My Aged Care, and having
spoken to medical professionals,
no one had mentioned private
services as an option.
So, what could be included on
My Aged Care?
First, in the 'help at home'
section, under 'costs explained',
the options and resources for
the self-funded retiree could
Approved 'private services'
suppliers could be listed,
based on criteria set by My
Aged Care, with a list of contact
details available -- similar to
the functionality available for
Key information about private
services could be presented in
order to inform consumers.
Private services are often able
to support more complex family
support solutions or urgent care
requirements out of hours. There
are the additional benefits of no
waiting lists and service flexibility.
For example, can you envisage
how you could supply services
for grandparents with custody of
three school aged grandchildren,
to support them with personal care,
respite, child minding, transport,
housekeeping, tutoring, cooking,
and shopping - all by one provider?
Or how quickly services could
be commenced for a palliative
care client who enquires about
24-hour nursing services via
email on a Saturday morning, and
subsequently has experienced
nursing staff commenced within
four hours of his initial email?
These are the everyday
realities of the private services
market. And consumers ought to
know about them.
Of course one of the big
questions is around quality, and
how credibility can be assessed.
How would a consumer
find out about the quality and
credibility of providers?
Like with any other industry,
consumers could be encouraged
to research the company, ask
for references, read reviews,
and ask for recommendations
from friends. They could be
encouraged to check that staff
hold appropriate insurances and
workplace safety procedures and
pay to award conditions, and
obtain their pricing schedule for
all types of services.
I have seen firsthand the anger
and frustration from our clients
after they finally discovered that
the system can be as simple as
paying for the care services they
want, in the way they want them.
The consumer wants to
be informed; they just need
someone to tell them. n
Sally Farrow is manager
of Private Care, which was
established as Eldercare in
1977 and services private
clients in their home across
Australia. Private Care is part
of the KinCare Group.
Rock the boat
If we're serious about having true
consumer choice on My Aged Care then
seniors must be presented with information
on all available services -- and that includes those provided
by private providers, argues Sally Farrow.
22 | NOVEMBER -- DECEMBER 2014 | AAA
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