Choose a care model now, says expert

There will be a higher level of clinical care needs in the home care sector in the future, delegates told.

Care management is going to be a key focus of the Support at Home program, delegates have heard at an industry event in Sydney.

“Both basic and complex,” said Lorraine Poulos – director of aged care consultancy firm LPA. Ms Poulos told a room of home care providers attending last week’s Aged and Community Care Providers Association’s state conference for New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory that putting care management front and centre of the Support at Home program was a “positive move”.

But she warned delegates that they really needed to be deciding now which care model they wanted their future income to be derived from. “Will it be in your basic care management or do you really want to focus on complex care management?” asked Ms Poulos.

Every organisation wants to do right by their community, she added, “but we all have to be viable”.

Basic care management, delegates were told, consists of low-level support and guidance. “But when we’re talking about complex care management, clients have more significant and often multiple healthcare needs. It caters for people with much higher acuity and much more intricate needs,” said Ms Poulos. 

Lorraine Poulos

Complex care management in the future, delegates were told, will require a clinical business model. “We still have providers who are fighting that,” said Ms Poulos. “That’s okay. But you won’t be doing complex care management. You can make the choice to do those low-level services – there’ll be a lot of new entrants in that – but if you’re going to do complex care management I can guarantee that there will need to be a clinically based model.”

Which means employing clinicians who are “extremely expensive and rare resources. And not all clinicians who come to work in home care understand the context,” she added.

There will certainly be a higher level of clinical care needs in the home care sector in the future, said Ms Poulos. “It’s part of [the government’s] reform agenda to deal with the larger number of older people.”

If providers were thinking of adopting the complex care model, she urged those in the room to assess how many of their current clients actually need clinical care. “Be very real about that,” she said. “Make sure you’ve got data.”

It may be that most clients will be requiring a basic level of care, added Ms Poulos. “And that’s okay. But once this current group of consumers transitions and we get the new Support at Home consumers coming through, it will be a very different model for us – and lots of opportunities.”

The home care reforms in motion are quite significant, said Ms Poulos, “and I want all of you providers to still be providers in three-to-five years’ time.”

Reiterating that it’s time for providers to rethink their care models, Ms Poulos told delegates detailed planning and coordination is key. “That’s why I’m saying, if you’re a current provider, start thinking about your care management model now because there are allied health providers out there, there are NDIS providers out there who are busting to get into this space.”

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Tags: ACCPA, aged care reform, care management, complex-needs, Lorraine Poulos, Support at Home,

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