Are you an older person who receives care services in your own home? Or maybe you’re considering home-care options for yourself or an older family member?
We know many seniors prefer to remain in their own homes for as long as possible – and recent reforms are offering consumers even more flexibility and choice around their aged home care arrangements.
For the past 18 months, at-home aged-care services have been driven by a new consumer-directed model. This means all government-funded home-care packages for older people are provided to you – the individual consumer – rather than being allocated directly to one of the approved care providers. So if you’re receiving home care, you now have greater flexibility and choice about your arrangements. Perhaps most significantly, you now have the right to choose your own care provider. Just like any other product or service in Australia, competition and consumer laws apply to home-care services.
So people should compare providers before making a decision, like you would with any other service or purchase?
Yes, it’s important to weigh up the different options and find the arrangement that’s best for you. We suggest doing research, asking questions and reading testimonials or reviews before entering into any agreement.
As a consumer you have a right to:
- choose your own home-care provider
- take your time and ask questions, without being pressured
- receive honest and accurate information
- have services delivered on time and with care
- receive goods of acceptable quality (safe and durable).
- Some factors to consider are whether the home-care provider uses a third party (rather than their own employees) to deliver services, and if extra costs (such as administration or exit fees) may apply.
- Check that you understand the agreement and maybe get a family member or other trusted person to also look over it.
- Ask about any terms that seem unfair, such as something that seems to give more rights to the provider than to you.
- The rights you have under Australian consumer legislation are in addition to the protections you have under aged care laws.
If people do have issues with their home-care provider, who should they get in touch with?
If something goes wrong, you have the right to make a complaint. Speak to your provider first, but if you can’t resolve the issue, you can contact the Older Persons Advocacy Network on 1800 700 600 for assistance. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission also provides guidance about consumer rights related to home care. A range of useful information is available at www.accc.gov.au/agedcare
And if you do choose to also explore other housing options, contact our Seniors Housing Advisory Centre on 1300 367 057 or visit our website at consumerprotection.wa.gov.au