Aged Care Reform

Aged Care Reform

Changes to Aged Care From 1 July 2015

1 July 2015 marks the third and final set of changes that consecutive governments have implemented through this phase of aged care reform. A number of these changes are the culmination of discussions between the government and consumers, providers and aged care workers and professionals. They represent an exciting shift from a menu style aged care system driven by government and providers, to a system more focused on the needs and preferences of consumers (that is, service users and prospective service users) and their family and friends.

The most important changes this July are

  • how you find information and access assessments and services through My Aged Care, a gateway established by the government to help people navigate the aged care system• what kinds of basic care and support are available to assist you at home and in your community through the Commonwealth Home Support Programme, and how you are assessed for those
  • consumer contributions towards subsidised care and support in the Commonwealth Home Support Programme through the nationally consistent fees policy and schedule
  • choice and flexibility in more complex home care packages through consumer directed care.

My Aged Care - your first step to finding out about aged care

On 1 July 2013, the My Aged Care telephone contact centre and website began providing general information about the aged care sector.

On 1 July 2015, My Aged Care will offer a number of new functions with comprehensive records, integrated screening and assessment and expanded service finders. From 1 July, you can talk to a skilled and well-informed person about many aspects of the aged care system, as well as how to access each kind of aged care service, by calling My Aged.

To find out more about this year's changes, to get information about services available in your area or to talk to someone about arranging an assessment of your care or service support needs, you can also visit www.myagedcare. gov.au or call 1800 200 422 (free call).

My Aged Care can also help you work out an estimate of how much your contribution might be for different kinds of care - both by phone and on the website.

Commencement of central client record, screening & assessment
From 1 July 2015, older people and their families will be able to go to My Aged Care to find out about all available aged care services and support options. Some of the changes you should be aware of are:

  • central client records - A single client record will hold all the information you provide to My Aged Care. It will be available to My Aged Care staff (including members of the assessment teams) and your service providers, so you don't have to repeat your story. Only you, your nominated representative(s), and service providers will be able to access relevant information in your record.
  • national screening and assessment - All people entering the aged care system will have a needs based screening by the My Aged Care telephone staff and then be assessed face-to-face by either a Regional Assessment Service (RAS) or an Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT) based on the outcome of the screening.
  • telephone screening - My Aged Care staff will help you to determine over the phone if you need an aged care assessment, a direct referral for service, or just some more information to help you plan for the future.
  • assessments and referrals - My Aged Care will, if needed, make a referral to a Regional Assessment Service who will conduct a face to face assessment to help you work out what support you need to stay at home and continue living independently in your community. Alternatively, if you are eligible and you want to move into an aged care home, or need more intensive home care, they'll help work out the best options for you to consider. These services require assessment by an ACAT.
  • service matching and referral - New service finders will help My Aged Care staff to suggest care and support options suited to your personal circumstances. You can see what residential and home care and support services are available in your local area at www.myagedcare. com.au.

The NEW Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP)

From 1 July 2015, the new Commonwealth Home Support Programme brings together four previously separate programmes to provide basic and streamlined care in the home or community for older people:

  • Commonwealth Home and Community Care (HACC) Program
  • National Respite for Carers Program (NRCP)
  • Day Therapy Centres (DTC) Program
  • Assistance with Care with Housing for the Aged (ACHA) Program.

The Commonwealth Home Support Programme offers a mix of basic services to help older people stay healthy and safe at home and live independently for long as possible. The programme funds a range of important community services for older people, including personal care, domestic assistance, delivered meals, community transport and respite care.

If you are already receiving a service under one of the existing programs your service will continue with your existing provider. In a handful of cases (for example, case management) where there may be changes to your existing services, your service provider will be in touch to discuss these with you.

If you begin to require help at home and are assessed by the My Aged Care Regional Assessment Service as needing services under the CHSP, you will be referred to providers who serve your local area with the kinds of services recommended.

As part of the new CHSP, a nationally consistent fees policy and schedule will be applied to existing and future services. This means you may notice a change to the amount your service provider asks you to contribute to the cost of your service. If you experience difficulty in paying the amounts determined at any time, there are hardship provisions that may help.

A copy of the national fees policy including the fees schedule will be available by 1 July 2015 at www.dss. gov.au/chsp.

ALL Home Care Packages will be delivered as Consumer Directed Care (CDC)
Since August 2013, new home care packages have been deemed ‘consumer directed', allowing service users to have more choice about what services are included in their package and more flexibility about how those chosen services are delivered or provided to them. Since then many providers have been ‘trialling' a consumer directed care approach to home care packages. From 1 July all home care packages must be delivered as CDC.

This means you and your family or carers, who understand your needs best, will be able to exercise more choice about how your services are delivered to best meet your specific care needs. And it's not just about the type of service. You can also choose to have the service delivered from another provider if you wish.

My Aged Care screening will lead to a referral for assessment by an Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT), which is the required pathway to the Home Care Packages Programme.

After you've been assessed as needing a home care package and have linked up with a home care provider, you will work with your provider to develop you care plan based on the outcomes of your assessment and how that best fits in with your lifestyle.

If you wish, you, or a family member or representative, will be able to choose to coordinate the services that you have selected for your package. If this does not suit you, your service provider will coordinate your care. No matter who does the coordinating, a detailed support plan will be prepared documenting the chosen mix of services and how and when you wish those to be delivered.

Home care packages currently have four levels, with the government allocating a set amount of money to each level. When you take up a package, your service provider may ask you to pay:

  • a basic fee of up to 17.5% of the single basic Age Pension
  • an income-tested care fee if your income is over a certain amount.

To find out more about income tested fees contact My Aged Care.

The provider is required to give you a monthly statement detailing the planned service delivery, the actual amounts that were delivered, and any variations. If you want a little more care you can explore paying for those additional services yourself.

From 1 July, if you are getting a Home Care Package you can choose to tailor the type, amount and frequency of services to meet your care needs within your individual budget, regardless of whether or not you pay an income tested fee.

While the introduction of these changes in July 2015 rounds out three years of reforms proposed in 2012, the process has highlighted additional areas for possible reform in the future.

COTA is one of the key stakeholders in the National Aged Care Alliance, which is working to encourage current and future governments to develop strategies to bring aged care closer to the consumer empowered model proposed by the Productivity Commission in its 2011 Report ‘Caring for Older Australians'.


Aged Care Complaints Scheme Call 1800 550 552 - the call is free from most home phones.

National Aged Care Advocacy Program (NACAP)
Call the National Aged Care Advocacy Line on 1800 700 600 (free call) for a referral to your local NACAP provider or look them up at http://www.myagedcare.gov.au/how-make-complaint/advocacy-services.

Home Care Today Home Care Today is a national resource initiated by COTA Australia and funded by the Australian Government Department of Social Services to support consumers and providers to successfully transition to Consumer Directed Care. Visit www.homecaretoday.org.au or call us on (03) 9909 7910.

The beginnings of Aged Care Reform

On Friday 20th April 2012 the Gillard Government released its long awaited response to the sustained campaigning for aged care reform by COTA and various other stakeholders, as well as the Productivity Commission's Caring for Older Australians report.

The Government's response is called "Living Longer. Living Better" reform package and COTA has compiled a number of fact sheets, which are accessible below, to help you understand the planned changes to aged care.

Whilst not perfect, the reform package does represent a substantial commitment to reforming and improving the aged care system.

COTA will continue to advocate for further reforms, whilst ensuring that the current reforms are implemented in a way that reflects the needs of, and achieve the best outcomes for, older Australians. Fact Sheet 3 outlines the reform COTA believes is still required.

The National Aged Care Alliance (NACA) has established a number of groups designed to bring together specialist knowledge from consumers, service providers, health professionals and unions to advise Government on reform implementation.  As part of the feedback and implementation process COTA is representing the needs and views of older people and consumers on these groups:

  • Aged Care Gateway Advisory Group
  • Home Care and Consumer Directed Care Advisory Group
  • Home Support Program Advisory Group
  • Quality Indicators Advisory Grou
  • Specified Care and Services Reference Group

The Aged Care Gateway Advisory Group

The Gateway aims to create a clear pathway into, and through, the aged care system and make it easier for older people, their families, and carers to access information on ageing and aged care services.

The group will provide advice to Government on the key design elements and implementation arrangements for the Gateway, including the national contact centre, the My Aged Care website, a client record keeping system, an assessment process, and a linking service for vulnerable clients. 

Home Care and Consumer Directed Care Advisory Group

The reforms include a move towards the implementation of consumer direct care and consumer choice within home care packages.  Consumer directed care will ensure that home care packages better meet the needs of consumers by offering increased choice, control and flexibility.

The group will advise the Government on the scope of care and services for each level of package, assessment and eligibility for packages, the development of program guidelines, the development of communication materials, the definition and operationalisation of consumer directed care within the packages; and, the monitoring and evaluation of the packages.

NACA has already provided some advice on this, which is available on the NACA website - http://www.naca.asn.au/Working_Groups/CDC/NACA-Home_care_CDC_Phase1_Final.pdf

Home Support Advisory Group

The new Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHSP) will combine and replace the Commonwealth HACC Program, the National Respite for Carers Program, Day Therapy Centres, and the Assistance with Care and Housing for the Aged Program. 

The Home Support Advisory group will provide advice to Government about the overall development of the CHSP, including respite, interface with other existing programs, and the incorporation of a wellness / reablement approach.

Quality Indicators Reference Group

National quality indicators will be developed to give consumers, their families and carers greater access to information about the quality of aged care services. The indicators will be designed to increase transparency about the quality of services and support consumers' involvement in making decisions about their care and services.

The Group will provide advice to Government on the development of quality indicators for residential aged care facilities to be published on the My Aged Care website from 1 July 2014.

Specified Care and Services Reference Group

As part of the aged care reforms the distinction between low and high level residential care will be removed from July 2014.   The Specified Care and Services Reference group will provide advice to Government on what services will be required to be delivered to all residents once the distinction has been removed.  It will also look at what services could be offered as optional extras to give consumers greater choice and control over the services they receive.

The membership and full Terms of Reference of each group are available on the NACA website: www.naca.asn.au

Conversations on Ageing

Any feedback or questions regarding COTA's role in representing the needs of older people in the implementation of the reform package, can be directed to COTA Australia at:

Suite 1104, Level 11
530 Little Collins St, Melbourne Vic 3000
Email: reform@cota.org.au
Phone: 03 9909 7910

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