Care managers must play a central role in the new, redesigned home care system, a forum on aged care reform has heard.
The federal government has agreed to implement a new single aged care program in line with the recommendations of the aged care royal commission.
That raised questions about the role of care managers in the new system, LASA’s Roadmap to Reform online forum heard last week
Care management at the centre
During a panel session on home care reform, ECH CEO David Panter said experience with the NDIS has shown that care management isn’t highly valued.
But he said active management is crucial to empower clients to stay independent, and it’s important it doesn’t get lumped in with administration.
Home Instead’s CEO Martin Warner said his organisation recognised the importance of care managers and is currently focused on attracting the right people to the role.
It’s important care managers are appropriately funded in the future, he said.
“I think the role of care manager is going to be really central to how we run our organisations. It’s a vital connection with clients and highly important role.”
Kincare CEO Jason Howie said under the current system a lot is being asked of customer care managers, and there’s an industry-wide need for upskilling.
Care managers were required to have health skills, financial skills and relationship management skills, Mr Howie said.
“We’re still skilling up that cohort of staff across the industry,” he told the panel.
“We haven’t got to the point yet where we have a cohort that is as skilled as they ultimately will be, or that as an industry we’re to communicate the value that people get from having a relationship with someone that’s overseeing their care with that breadth of skills.”
Community Vision CEO Michelle Jenkins said while care management would remain important in the higher end of home care, it was likely to become optional for lower levels, leaving clients with something resembling self-management.
That raised issues around reporting requirements, she said.
“It’s going to become interesting going back to the detail of how we’re going to be reporting,” she said.
“How do you create a wellness an reablement report if you’re not involved in that care management?
“Whatever this new scheme looks like I think there will probably be two options around care management and it’s going to be awkward for us as providers to provide the reporting the government is going to want.”
Devil in the detail
Panelists agreed the royal commission’s focus on home care, as well as the government’s response, was welcome. But they said the devil is in the detail.
The government has responded to the recommendations by releasing more home care packages and agreeing to create a single home care system combining CHSP with HCPs.
“The extra packages was a big announcement but there’s not a lot of detail about how the system will work,” Mr Howie said.
Uncertainty remained round workforce recruitment pricing, payments and how the CHSP and HCP programs would work together.
Mr Panter said it was important for home care providers to have a collective voice on future reform.
“We’ve often felt like the afterthought but going into the future home care is where most people want to be receiving services,” he said.
“We need to make sure we apply our expertise into the reform process.”