July 19, 2020


Coercion is not OK

Providers of Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHSP) and Home Care Packages (HCPs) should never put pressure on you to sign up with them.

If they do, take this as a warning bell and re think if this provider is going to do the right thing by you. My suggestion would be that they won't.

Recently I assisted an elderly lady and her daughter to make the referral to My Aged Care (MAC).

The elderly lady was reasonably independent and only required CHSP services and support (entry level) at this stage.

I explained what would happen from point of referral, advising that an assessor from the Regional Assessment Service (RAS) would contact them, come to their home and complete an assessment.

I explained what the approvals were likely to be, being referral codes for CHSP funded services and support and I explained how to go about choosing a CHSP provider.

I explained that the RAS assessor would automatically send those referral codes out to a variety of local providers who could deliver CHSP services but I impressed upon my client that she didn't need to accept the services of the first provider who contacted her.

The RAS assessor completed the assessment and approved for a number of CHSP services for this lady. The RAS assessor took a screen shot of the services she approved for and forwarded the screen shot to my client's daughter.

Four days later the elderly lady received a phone call from a local CHSP provider urging her to accept the CHSP services with that organisation, stating that she needed to accept them immediately and if she didn't the referral codes would expire.

The person from this organisation went on to say that she could see some of the referral codes had already been 'discontinued' because the elderly lady had not accepted the services. The elderly lady had not even received her letter of approval with the referral codes, the system just doesn't work that quickly.

The daughter of the elderly lady contacted me, very concerned and querying why I had stated they didn't need to accept the services straight away and now they were being told they had to. I reiterated what I had explained the previous week and reassured her that her mother didn't need to accept the services from this provider immediately.

So, what was going on here?

Allow me tell you.

Not all Providers are the same

You would be forgiven for thinking that all providers of community services and support aim to do the right thing by their frail and vulnerable clients. I hasten to add that there are many excellent community providers who do the right thing and go the extra mile for their clients.

But there are providers who are driven by the dollar and unfortunately this is where this provider mentioned above sits. The person who contacted the elderly lady was intentionally misleading the lady in order to have her sign with their organisation.

Not all community providers are funded to deliver CHSP services and support. Conversely, most community providers are approved to deliver services and support under Home Care Packages.

What this means is that at entry level, being the CHSP services and support, those providers who have this funding get their foot in the door, so to speak, with the client before other providers, who don't have CHSP funding.

Then, when said client is assigned a Home Care Package, the CHSP provider will again try to coerce the client into signing with them to deliver the Home Care Package, as this is where the revenue is generated for the provider.

This practice denies the client choice and could quite possibly cost them more from their funding in the long term. And this practice is not uncommon. I live is a regional town and I know of 3 CHSP/HCP providers who operate this way.

I've sat with a client and a potential Home Care Package provider who was already involved with the client as a CHSP provider, providing domestic support.

The client tried to discuss their options with the provider, re the Home Care Package, but when the provider sensed that the client wanted to explore their choices, the provider closed her file and actually said to the client "If you don't sign with us, we won't continue to clean your home".

Yes, that was said while I was sitting with the client.

I couldn't believe my ears. This provider got up and left and the elderly gent said to me "What do we do now?"

I said, "We find you another provider".

And we did.

My take home messages to you are:
1. Never feel you don't have a choice with either CHSP funded services or Home Care Packages.

2. Don't feel pressured to accept the services from the first provider who calls you.

3. Your referral codes can be taken to ANY provider who has CHSP funding and your Home Care Package approval can also be managed by any provider who is approved to manage Home Care Packages.

4. Don't be afraid to ask. If you feel you are getting reliable and honest communication from a potential provider, great, that's what needs to happen. If you don't, if you feel pressured to accept services or support, consider talking to a different provider.

Your community support is a long term arrangement between you and your provider and it's essential you trust them.

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