Getting the best outcomes from a home care package for an elderly parent
Know if you are getting what you are entitled to by the selected aged care provider.
You are busy but you have been able to get Mum a home care package and find a provider to deliver the service. The hard yards have been done right?
Surely at this point, you can relax and feel confident that Mum is getting the care and support she needs. Indeed, initially, it may have felt like this was the case. However, you are starting to notice when you visit Mum that she doesn’t seem to be going as well as she was… you may notice she is a bit frailer, or having difficulty with activities she used to do easily. Maybe she is forgetting more things or her personal appearance is changed.
Surely you think, someone from the Home Care team will have recognised and responded to this? But as time rolls by there doesn’t seem to be any change and Mum continues to deteriorate. What should you do?
Call the Care Coordinator
We would recommend that in the first instance, you contact the home care provider and you want to speak with the Care Coordinator who oversees your Mum’s home care package. A great provider will have systems in place where they have staff who recognise the deterioration and have a system in-house to escalate and respond to these concerns and reach out proactively. A great provider will be available to listen to your concerns and review your Mum’s care plan and adjust accordingly.
An unsatisfactory home care provider will not listen and not follow up with you, requiring endless calls on your part and may be unhelpful or unwilling to make changes to your Mum’s care service requirements.
Check the statement
We also recommend regularly checking the statement from the home care provider. They are obliged to provide a monthly statement which should clearly show what services have been delivered in the month, the cost of the services and the balance. There have been changes to how the government pays the home care packages to help reduce the large accrual of funds that had been occurring.
When you are checking the statement, review the services that are reported as attended and ensure that indeed they were. Also consider if that is still relevant to your Mum’s current needs … or does Mum need more or something different now?
The Care Plan should NOT be put on the shelf
If Mum has had a change in needs, then the home care provider should review the Care Plan with you and Mum to determine what the new need(s) might be. These reviews should be done regularly regardless of any changes in care needs… but they should certainly be done if a change has been identified.
You should then be provided with a copy of the Care Plan. Great home care providers should be proactive with this process and keep you informed and involved. Great providers will respond to your prompts for review and provide a copy of the Plan when asked.
Inadequate home care providers won’t provide you with an opportunity to review the care needs and update the care plan or provide you with a copy.
It is important to remember the Care Plan is the document that guides what you can use your home care package on. There needs to be an “assessed need” for a home care provider to approve and facilitate a service/product. There are rules around what these can be… but it is essentially a Consumer Directed Care model so if a need can be demonstrated and is important to Mum, then the provider should work with you to meet that need within the scope of the package. The provider should also be able to willingly and clearly explain to you why they cannot meet some requests if that is the case.