A brokerage model maximises flexibility in home care services delivery and closely aligns with a philosophy of consumer directed care, a home care provider will tell an upcoming aged care conference.
Trent Thomason, home care manager at Cumberland View Hostel, a Melbourne-based private aged care provider, said its 26 home care packages were delivered entirely on a brokerage model, which reduced overhead costs for the organisation by not employing direct care staff but also facilitated genuine choice for clients.
He said the organisation could draw upon a wide range of brokered agencies to deliver an individualised service that met the preferences of the client, which could be particularly useful in the engagement of staff to meet specific cultural, linguistic or other special needs.
The model also helped to drive competition between agencies to deliver the best price to the client, Mr Thomason said.
“I have a list of many brokered agencies and if one can’t fit the criteria a consumer is looking for, I go to another one. I don’t have any loyalty to any one particular agency – my focus is on getting the consumer what they want and need,” he told Australian Ageing Agenda ahead of his presentation to the National Service Integrated Housing conference next month.
Unlike a traditional service provider that relied on internal resources, Mr Thomason said he could leverage off a range of providers and their workforce to deliver increased choice and flexibility. It was also easier to change staffing arrangements according to client preferences under this model.
“Because CDC is all about choice, flexibility and greater control, we wanted to give our consumers the ability to choose where their care comes from,” he said. “To direct a consumer to use a provider’s own internal care staff, we don’t see that as providing full choice.”
As a small home care provider, minimising staffing costs including the responsibility for employee training, insurance, rostering and police checks was also a major advantage, he said.
On the question of maintaining quality standards, Mr Thomason said as the care manager he retained oversight of the package and a strong relationship and understanding of the client and their care plan. A local complaints process was also in place for consumers to use.
But ultimately, he said, if a brokered agency was not proving to be up to scratch, the organisation could cease their relationship and move to another agency.
Some of the challenges with the brokerage model could be maintaining effective communication as an agency may not relay carer feedback to Cumberland or consumers may liaise directly with an agency, discrepancies on invoices, and some agency staff putting themselves in a position of care manager instead of simply providing the services requested, he said.
As a retirement village operator, Cumberland’s home care packages are currently delivered to a mix of its retirement living and community clients.
The National Service Integrated Housing Conference organised by LASA Queensland runs 7-8 May.