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Upcoming Changes to In-Home Aged Care: What You Need to Know

Starting in 2024, the Australian Federal Government will be implementing significant changes to the delivery of in-home and community support for older Australians. This includes a new assessment tool and the consolidation of existing programs, such as the Home Care Packages (HCP) Program, Short Term Restorative Care (STRC) Programme, and the Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP), into the new Support at Home Program.


Home Care

Why These Changes?


The overhaul of in-home aged care services comes in response to recommendations made by the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety. Currently, various programs with different assessments, eligibility, service providers, funding, and fee structures offer in-home care. While these programs support nearly one million older Australians, they can be complex and challenging to navigate. The Support at Home Program aims to simplify and enhance these services, helping older Australians stay at home longer, which aligns with many people's preferences as they age.


What Do These Changes Mean?


From July 2025, the HCP and STRC programs will transition to the Support at Home Program, while the CHSP will transition no earlier than July 2027. This means that by July 2027, all older Australians and their carers will access services and support through a single, unified program.


What Will the Changes Look Like?


Changes to Assessments

Currently, aged care assessments are conducted by the Regional Assessment Services (RAS) for low support needs and the Aged Care Assessment Teams (ACATs) for more complex needs. Starting in July 2024, a new, integrated assessment tool will be introduced, and conducted by a single assessment service. This tool will determine eligibility for all aged care programs, including home care, residential care, transition care, multi-purpose services, and respite care. The new tool will also identify the most appropriate home care services for older Australians and their carers and decide if residential aged care is more suitable, providing funding approval as part of the assessment. Additionally, culturally safe First Nations assessment organisations will be introduced progressively from July 2025.


Individualised Support Plans

Post-assessment, older Australians will receive an Individualised Support Plan detailing the services they are eligible for, including their frequency and duration. The older person and the assessor will collaborate to ensure the plan reflects their support needs, circumstances, and preferences. From July 2025, these plans will be managed by a single provider, though services can still be delivered by multiple providers if preferred. By July 2027, the option to have multiple providers manage a plan will be available.


Access to Assistive Technology and Home Modifications

Access to Assistive Technology and Home Modifications (ATHM) is crucial for many older Australians but can be difficult to obtain under current programs. Ongoing consultations aim to simplify ATHM access, eliminating the need to 'save' in-home care funds for these supports.


Plan Management Changes

Under the current system, recipients of a HCP must select one Approved Provider responsible for delivering their care. The new model will support self-management of care, allowing the use of multiple service providers and the option to choose an independent Care Partner to manage changes and ensure services meet the individual's needs. Self-management will be facilitated by a new computer-based payments platform, allowing older Australians and providers to view entitlements and pay for services at delivery, with government-set price caps.


Reablement and Restorative Care Changes

The STRC program currently offers eight weeks of restorative care to help older Australians regain skills or capabilities but is limited to those outside the HCP program. The new Support at Home Program will integrate the STRC program, broaden eligibility to all older Australians who could benefit, and extend the program period to 12 weeks.


Stay Informed and Get Involved


For more details and to stay updated on these changes, visit the Aged Care Engagement Hub and the Reforming in-home Aged Care webpage.


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