The reporting of home care monthly statements should be standardised across the industry and expenditure tracked over time to assess the impact of the February policy changes, researchers say.

Health economics professor Julie Ratcliffe has completed a study of individual budget expenditure under the consumer-directed home care packages program and found significant variation in financial statements among providers.

The research examined the monthly statements of 92 clients over a 12-month period between July 2015 and June 2016.

The ARC Linkage project was conducted by Flinders University and the University of Sydney with five aged care partner organisations – ACH Group, Helping Hand and Resthaven in South Australia and Catholic Healthcare and HammondCare in NSW.

Professor Ratcliffe presented the study’s findings at the 2017 AAG Conference in Perth earlier this month.

The study found administration and care coordination expenses accounted for 40 per cent of package expenditure, while 60 per cent of funds was for direct care and equipment purchases.

For level 1 and 2 home care packages, 25 per cent of package expenditure was spent on administration and 16 per cent on care coordination. In level 3 and 4 packages, administration costs accounted for 20 per cent of expenses and care coordination 18 per cent.

Over 50 per cent of expenditure in CDC packages was attributable to direct care services and around 8 per cent on other expenses such as home maintenance, transport, allied health services, and goods and equipment, she said.

The proportion of expenditure on home maintenance and transport was much higher in level 1 and 2 packages, compared to levels 3 and 4.

Professor Ratcliffe said longitudinal tracking was needed to investigate the impact of the policy decision to attach funding to the consumer from 27 February on expenditure patterns and administrative efficiency in the sector.

She said unsurprisingly the key drivers of expenditure were hours of formal care support received and the package level.

Since the change to CDC in July 2015, the administration charges of home care providers have come under significant scrutiny. Since February providers have been encouraged to report their average funds available for care on My Aged Care as part of increased transparency measures.

As CCR reported, a survey of 77 home care providers in 2015 showed that on average providers were taking 27 per cent of a consumer’s subsidy in administration and case management fees. Average figures ranged from 29 per cent for a Level 1 and 3 package, to 21 per cent for a Level 4 package.

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