Providers ‘not ready’ for home care reform, says peak chief

The sector is unprepared for the new home care program, Tom Symondson has told delegates at an industry event.

The sector is unprepared for the “big bang” implementation of the new home care program, chief executive officer of the aged care provider peak told delegates at an industry event last week.

With the new system due to kick in from 1 July 2024, Tom Symondson was doubtful that providers could meet the deadline.

Tom Symondson

“Fifteen months, well, that’s a long time if that’s how long you’ve got to wait until your next birthday, holiday or Christmas, but it’s not a long time to implement a once-in-a-generation change to an enormous service system. We have to wait and see what’s in the upcoming budget on this, but our sense is we’re not ready yet.

“We’re very concerned about that and the level of detail that we still do not have about the future of Support at Home. A year is long enough if we’re really concerted, but we do have some concerns. For example, we’re still planning for a big bang implementation on one day.”

Speaking at ACCPA’s inaugural Queensland state conference, Mr Symondson noted that the National Disability Insurance Scheme had a staggered rollout.

“The NDIS, if you remember, went live in one region after another and there were people in Geelong in Victoria, for example – it was one of the first sites – and they went online three years before the last site went online.”

Mr Symondson wondered whether there was a potential for government to also stage the home care transition.

“Because if we are going to come in on 1 July and we’re not ready until 30 June, 1.4 million people, or whatever it is, coming into a completely new system is going to be a challenge.”

“There’s a lot of reading of tea leaves going on across the industry.”

Mr Symondson’s remarks echoes those of other stakeholders. During a webinar hosted by Australian Ageing Agenda in March, industry experts said confusion and uncertainty surrounded the home care reforms.

“Organisations aren’t necessarily aware of what’s going to hit them, and this is significant change. It’s not insubstantial,” said panellist Greg O’Loan – regional vice-president of tech company Epicor.

He said anecdotal evidence shows providers “are still somewhat confused with the changes that are coming and what the priority is that they must focus on.”

Fellow panellist Jason Howie – principal consultant at Pride Living – said providers were still trying to process the limited information available. “There’s a lot of reading of tea leaves going on across the industry at the moment.”

The new home care program is being designed to enable more Australians to live independently and age in place. Consolidated into a streamlined, consumer-centric model, the aim is for the new system to become easier to access and simpler to navigate.

According to a Department of Health and Aged Care stakeholder survey last year, only a quarter of home care providers were well aware of the incoming reforms.

The webinar – Deep Dive into Home Care Reforms – is available to watch here upon registration.

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Tags: ACCPA, featured, Queensland state conference, Tom Symondson,

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