Starting from yesterday, Consumer Directed Care has changed with the introduction of Increasing Choice in Home Care measure.

Changes made by the Federal Government have altered how home care for older Australians are funded, with 80,000 home care packages going from provider-controlled to consumer-controlled.

A person who is eligible for Home Care Packages will now be able to choose which organisation will provide which services for them.

Previously, home care packages and funding were given to approved providers via an allocation process, and if the consumer wanted to change providers before they had used up all their package, then the remainder of the unused funds would be forfeited.

But now all home care packages will be given directly to individual consumers and they determine how services, such as nursing or personal care, are allotted.

The old system, where providers held control of the home care packages, often had many issues such as allegations of providers charging huge fees, discrimination against people who couldn’t afford private services and problems when people had to relinquish and re-apply for packages when they moved homes.

Consumers are now able to change their provider whenever they choose for whatever reason, for example if they move or if their care needs are unfulfilled, and take with them whatever remaining funds they have to the new provider.

This is a big move for home care as Consumer Directed Care not only ensures that the industry is consumer-driven, but that it is also market based and less regulated.

It is expected, now, that people who are receiving the home care packages will be more involved with the distribution of their funds and have more regular contact with their provider.

Consumer Directed Care is set to give more control to consumers over the funds for their care and how those funds are spent, which would be more efficient as the number of people who choose to use home care services rises. It has been estimated that the number of home care packages will increase to approximately 100,000 by 2018.

People who currently already have a home care package are not required to do anything to have the new changes applied to them, and their home care services will continue unless they choose otherwise.

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