Several key documents outlining the emerging shape of the new umbrella program were released on Monday night, while the department provided an update to the sector on Tuesday. Here’s AAA’s wrap on the latest tweaks to the program and what we know so far.
Services under the forthcoming Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHSP) will be described as ‘entry level’ after stakeholder feedback suggested the proposed ‘basic’ term did not reflect the program’s highly-intensive, restorative and nursing services.
The Department of Social Services told a sector briefing in Sydney on Tuesday that the May 2015 CHSP discussion paper attracted over 400 submissions and resulted in other changes to the proposed design of the program, including a framework based on target groups rather than outcomes, and the previously reported transitioning and grandfathering arrangements.
The department outlined some operational details of the CHSP ahead of its 1 July launch but also called on the sector to respond to the draft program manual, proposed national fees policy and a good practice guide for a wellness and reablement approach, which were all released on Monday night.
These documents provide further detail on the proposed scheme and stakeholders are being encouraged to give feedback on potential challenges or support required to implement the CHSP, the forum was told.
The sector briefing heard that the majority of existing agreements have been extended to 31 October. Service providers should continue using existing manuals and guidelines for each program during the four-month transition period and the government will work with providers to establish new agreements for 1 November 2015 – 30 June 2017.
The CHSP, which brings together the Commonwealth Home and Community Program, which excludes Victoria and WA, the National Respite for Carers Program, Day Therapy Centres program and Assistance with Care and Housing for the Aged program (ACHA), has four sub-groups:
- Community and home support: targets frail older people aged over 65 years, or over 50 for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, needing assistance with daily living to remain living independently at home;
- Care relationships and carer support: targets planned respite for frail, older clients;
- Assistance with care and housing: targets people aged over 50 years who are on low income and homeless or at risk of homelessness; and
- Service system development: for grant recipients under the CHSP and their clients base
Another area highlighted at the forum was funding flexibility for providers. As outlined in the draft manual, grant recipients must deliver at least 80 per cent of the outputs for each funded service type listed in the schedule, but may use any of the remaining 20 per cent on other needed services within the same sub-program.
The CHSP caters to special needs groups and the forum was told it would align with the Aged Care Act, such as interpreter services for CALD clients. However, it was pointed out that care and support for people with dementia was core business for all providers and not considered a special needs area.
As previously reported, case management under the CHSP will continue through the Regional Assessment Service (RAS) but will only be offered on a short-term basis. The department said 85 per cent of case management clients received short-term case management. The department also confirmed that in the coming weeks there will be advice on the re-classification process for case management providers.
Services providers will have to comply with the Home Care Standards and CHSP guidelines and annual financial reporting and six-monthly performance reporting, but stakeholders were told the quality and reporting arrangements would apply from 1 November after the transition period.
The CHSP also means that, for the first time, a nationally consistent fees policy will apply to home support services to ensure fairness and sustainability of the program.
From 1 November fees must be charged for all services based on the income of the client, the forum was told, however, the policy does not apply in Victoria or WA, or to ACHA clients.
The draft fees policy paper stipulates providers charge non-pensioners a standard fee up to but not exceeding the actual cost of the service, and charge part- and full-pensioners a discounted fee according to their pension status.
The department said providers should develop their own policy to use with the CHSP policy and that providers’ fees should be publicly available.
Good practice guide
Elsewhere, the government’s draft good practice guide for restorative care approaches, wellness and reablement builds on the experiences and resources already available in the sector, the sector briefing heard.
The paper highlights that the provision of wellness, reablement and restorative care services are complementary methods, and as foundation elements of the CHSP program should be embedded at all levels of the program including assessment, support planning and service delivery.
The feedback period for the three consultation papers is open until 15 April 2015.