When you first start researching different Home Care Package Providers it can be a bit overwhelming. There are so many Providers and it’s hard to know why you’d choose one over another. If you’ve recently been approved for, or assigned, a new package this stage can seem particularly daunting. Everyone wants to make the right decision and it’s important you do! We’d like to help you make the right choice with this handy guide. It demystifies the differences between Providers and gives you a firm foundation on which to base your decision.
Set Your Criteria for a Provider
To begin the process of choosing a Provider you’re going to need some criteria. The main differences between Providers are:
- Service Areas
- Support Services Available
- Range of Carers
- Care Management Options
- Customer Service
The first step in short listing Providers is determining if they service your area. Depending on where you live this could be a very long or a very short list. At Better Living Homecare we are unique in that we are able to provide care services wherever you are in Australia.
Fees are a big consideration and, depending on the Provider, can be complex or simple. Here you’re looking for transparency and reasonable fees. This is what you need to consider:
- Set Up Fee – Some providers will charge you to sign with them. You should consider if this is fair and necessary to you. Not only do does it reduce the amount of funds left for care services it can make you reluctant to change providers if you’re not happy. Better Living Homecare doesn’t charge a set-up fee.
- Exit Fee – Providers are allowed to charge you an exit fee in the event you want to change providers. This will impact the amount of funds you have left for care with a new provider. This fee can be anywhere from $200 to $5,000. At Better Living Homecare we have no exit fees, as in $0. We focus our efforts on keeping our clients happy so that they don’t want to leave.
- Case/Care Management Fees – This fee has a high impact on the amount of care that will be available each month. There are Providers that charge up to 50% of a Home Care Package funds for Care Management. At Better Living Homecare we have some of the most competitive, and value driven, fees around.
- Daily Fee –Some Providers may tell you that you are required to contribute to your Package with a daily fee. It’s actually not mandatory at all from a government perspective. At Better Living Homecare we’ll never charge you a Daily Fee. If you want to contribute extra to your package then great but we’ll never require you to do so.
- Service Providers /Carers Fees – Many providers have a hidden fees built in to their carers and service providers hourly rates, which is why they require you to only use their staff. Better Living uses a large network of carers and service providers but you are always free to choose whomever you like.
- Surcharge for using staff not employed by the Provider – Some Providers add an extra fee, known as a surcharge, for using the client’s chosen Carer or service providers. At Better Living Homecare we allow you to use whom you want to, free of charge, always.
- Income Tested Fee – The income tested fee is assessed and charged by the government. If you are required to pay this fee then you will need to do so, whichever Provider you choose.
- Variable or Fixed Fees – Some Providers charge a fixed fee which is great as long as it’s a reasonable amount. With fixed fees you’ll know what you can expect in care services each week, without interruption. Variable fees can be seen as good value but you may be left wondering if you’re getting services from one week to the next! For example, a Provider could offer you a low admin fee but charge you every time they speak with you. With Better Living Homecare you’ll know exactly how much funds you’ll have available for care services.
Support Services Available
Most Providers are able to deliver all of the care services to their clients that are allowable with a Home Care Package. You can find a list of these services in our resource guide Services You Can Access with your Home Care Package. If you know there is a particular service that you need that is not mentioned in this guide then it’s wise to discuss your individual needs with potential Providers. At Better Living Homecare we know that your funds are meant to support you to thrive at home and we’ll do our best to accommodate clients in line with Home Care Package regulations.
Range of Carers
Some Providers will only allow you to use their carers and service providers. Others allow you to choose the service providers you want whether or not they are employees of the Provider you choose.
If you must use a Provider’s services providers then you are likely paying a margin to do so, and not maximising the funds in your package. Also, you may be limited in choice and not able to access the best carer or service provider for your situation. On the flip side if all service providers are employees of the Provider then there is a perception that there is also a tighter control over quality. However we don’t believe this is the case as there are minimum standards that must be met by all carers and service providers.
Other Providers use networks and partnerships of service providers and do not lock you into using their own staff. Not only does this have financial advantages it also allows customers to access a larger range of carers and service providers which increases the chance of finding the right fit.
At Better Living Homecare we have both employees and an extensive network of service providers and carers. Our goal is to find the right fit of carer and/or service providers for our clients and we have the unique ability as a Provider to do so.
Care Management Options
It’s important to consider a Provider’s care management options which can range from full care management to self-managed. At Better Living we offer our clients both options.
Full care management is suitable for an individual who is not able to, or doesn’t want to, oversee the hiring and scheduling of their carers and service providers.
Self-management is perfect for someone who wants complete control over their package, the delivery of services and to preserve as much of their package funds as possible.
Customer service is what will make or break your experience with a Provider. You may wonder how to figure out if a Provider provides a good customer experience or not. Here are some ideas on how to find out:
- Do they answer the phone when you call or are you left on hold music for a very, very long time?
- When you do get to speak with someone is he/she knowledgeable about Home Care Packages? This will give you a good indication of their home care experience or lack of it.
- Can they share some client testimonials with you?
- Are their marketing materials, including website, customer focused and easy to read? This will say a lot about how they will communicate with you now and in the future.
- How quickly they can meet you? If it takes a long time to meet you could conclude that it may also take a long time to get the services you need.
- Are they offering information and to help with the administrative steps to starting a new Home Care Package? Remember their main job should really be to help you get the care services you require.