Seniors receiving home and community care services are likely to be affected by changes to staff hours, warns peak provider body the Australian & Community Care Providers Association.

From 1 July, aged and disability care providers have had to pay home support workers a minimum of two hours a shift following a review of the Social, Community, Home Care and Disability Services Industry Award by the Fair Work Commission – up from a minimum of one hour.  

An ACCPA survey found that 90 per cent of home and community care providers have already taken steps to adapt to the change. The survey also showed that almost half of home care providers expect their service fees to rise by up to 20 per cent.

If the Federal Government fails to provide additional funding to cover the increase, the level of care may be compromised, said ACCPA interim chief operating officer Paul Sadler.

Paul Sadler

“Clients and staff could experience disruption for some months as providers work through solutions,” said Mr Sadler.

In many cases, the new two-hour provision can be accommodated through rostering that allows an aged care worker to move between clients’ homes, he said.

However, when that cannot be guaranteed, ACCPA is seeking a commitment from the government “to adjust how it pays providers to make sure no-one – an older person, an employee or provider – is out of pocket for complying with the changes to the award,” said Mr Sadler.

While Mr Sadler agreed that aged care staff deserve improved pay and better conditions, “It can’t come at the expense of older Australians getting the care they need or to the point where providers have no choice but to cease operating because of the increase in costs and the restriction on their ability to adjust their prices accordingly,” he said.

“These changes must be appropriately funded.”

Advocacy group the Older Persons Advocacy Network is also calling on sector stakeholders to ensure that senior Australians are not adversely affected by the change.

Craig Gear

“It is a positive development that aged care workers are receiving more support through recent changes to the industry award, but we must ensure that older people are not worse off,” said OPAN CEO Craig Gear.

Mr Gear said OPAN had already received “distressed calls” from older Australians impacted by the change to SCHADS – which also include a travel and laundry allowance and full pay for a cancelled shift.

Reiterating OPAN’s support for improved conditions for aged care workers, Mr Gear said the changes must be appropriately funded. “This might require additional supplements in rural and remote areas, where there are increased travel time, to cover morning and evening shifts.”

Mr Gear urged service providers to use effective rostering and other solutions to ensure that older people’s needs are met. “The delivery of the two-hour block does not have to be with the same client, and it doesn’t have to be at the same location,” he said. “So it’s up to the providers to find a solution that works best.”

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3 Comments

  1. The new changes to the award and continual changes to the way Aged Care funding is delivered to service providers WILL cause many to go out of business leaving vulnerable clients stranded in the abyss. The 2 government bodies need to “talk” to each other to ensure that the award matches what is doable under the changed funding arrangements.

  2. I would like to comment on Mr. Gear’s advice regarding the shift not being restricted to 2 hours with the one client. He goes on to comment that it can be with another client in another area. We understand this but the client pays for 1 hour the first shift then the worker travels half hour to go to another client, this time is to be paid and then 1 hour with next client. This is 2.5 hours work in comparison to previous arrangement that the worker would be paid only 2 hours. That extra half hr would then be applied to possibly 3 other shifts on the day which then becomes an extra 1.5 hour for that worker only on that day, she works 5 days and this becomes 7.5 extra hrs that are required to be paid to the worker with no extra income as the client will not pay for the travel time but only for the time the worker is with the client. Can I ask where is the provider meant to get this extra money from?? The obvious answer would be that the client will need to be charged for that travel time or the provider has to carry the loss

    1. The obvious answer is that the employer pays for the time taken by their employee to move between clients.

      If we refer to the published NDIS – Disability Support Worker Cost Model 2022-23 we see that for a Disability Support Worker level 1; award wages are $32.36/hr M-F. The NDIS price model then adds allowances to cover 4 weeks of annual leave, 10 days of personal leave, 10 days of public holidays, provision for long service leave, 9% superannuation and provision for employee allowances (meal, PPE, …) and all those things mean that the true cost of the employee is not $32.36/hr but $43.86/hour.

      Next the NDIS allows for the employers operational and corporate overheads (workers comp, supervision costs, computers, cars, admin, rostering, training, transport, …) of an extra 34% then allows for a small profit margin and add a temporary loading and allows agencies to charge NDIS Participants $62.17/hr

      So who pays for the time while an employee is travelling? The employer of course; and that cost is included in the $18.31/hr the employer is charging on top of each and every hour worked by all of the employer’s employees.

      If an employer really thinks they need to pass that cost on; they’re wrong. Very wrong. Rather than complain maybe they could focus their efforts on more efficient and effective rostering so staff don’t have 30 minute drives between clients but service a group of clients living close together.

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