August 8, 2021


How can a care finder help me find a home care package provider?

Australia's aged care system is complex and confusing. People describe it as a minefield.

Describing it as a minefield really is an accurate reflection of what can happen as you move through the system, hoping you're taking the right steps at the right time and praying you're making the right choices.

If you manage to get it right, your pathway through the system should be clear.

Or, like many people, get it wrong and end up losing your way.

Not understanding how the aged care system works, being aware of the programs you're eligible for and receiving timely assessments and approval outcomes can make the difference in accessing the support you need to remain living in your own home.

The final report from the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety detailed 148 recommendations. Recommendation 29 addressed a new workforce of advisors called 'care finders'.

"The function of care finders will be to assist older people seeking aged care services with information about the aged care system". Specifically, care finders will provide face to face support to older people to help them identify the best options for care to meet their individual needs and goals, to exercise informed choice and to understand their entitlements.

How does a care finder know what my needs are?

Assisting older people to find services and support that are right for them should consider their individual needs. What services and support are right for one person may not be suitable for another person.

Determining what those services and support should be, that is, what the older person's care plan should look like, once a provider of a home care package is chosen, requires thorough information gathering with the older person and their family.

Determining your needs requires a comprehensive assessment.

Before a discussion about choosing a home care package provider occurs, information relevant to the older person needs to be obtained. This should include assessment of an older person's functional ability, cognition and social and community aspects of their daily life. This holistic assessment of the older person is what we call a comprehensive assessment.

It is the same kind of assessment that the assessors from Aged Care Assessment Teams (ACAT) complete.

A comprehensive assessment is a complete and detailed summary of the day to day life of the older person, revealing everything they can and can't do for themselves, as well as the amount of support they might be receiving from family members, friends or neighbours.

Due to the time it takes for people to progress in the queue, up to six months or more, waiting for assignment of their home care package, the initial ACAT assessment may not reflect the changes that have occurred with the older person during this time.

It is important to review the ACAT assessment with the older person and their family to find out what the older person needs help with now, when they are on the cusp of choosing a home care package provider.

Reviewing their needs at the time they are considering a provider for their home care package will ensure advice for finding care is based on current needs. Choosing who the provider will be and the management structure of the home care package will then be optimised.

When a clear picture of what the older person's current needs are is established, then choosing the right home care package provider becomes clearer as well.

A care finder should have a thorough understanding of traditional and self or part managed models of a home care package.
The care finder should be able to explain to the older person and their family members the benefits and draw backs of both models and guide the older person and family to make realistic decisions about having an organisation manage the home care package completely, or if self-management of the home care package is achievable.

Care finders should be independent.

A care finder shouldn't tell the older person who they should choose to manage their home care package, rather, they should equip the older person and their family with the knowledge to make an informed decision.

Having a thorough understanding of all aspects of home care package provision; what the costs are including the income tested fee, basic daily fee, any administration and care coordination fees and costs of support workers and clinicians, is integral for the older person and their family to understand how their package funds are being spent.

Continuity of care workers is also an important consideration in choosing a provider of the home care package, particularly if the older person has dementia.

Understanding carer stress is another important factor when considering the option to self-manage rather than have a traditional provider manage the home care package for the older person. If a carer is already feeling overwhelmed, they may be unable to give the necessary time and thought to the self-management of the home care package.

What is most important when being guided by a care finder, is knowing that the care finder is independent. Care finders can be aligned with home care package providers, but a care finder should be open and honest and disclose if they are receiving a commission from a home care package provider for recommending specific organisations.

Care finders are an emerging workforce within Australia's aged care system.

This workforce has been recommended in the final report from the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety and the aim is to have this workforce implemented by July 2023.

See Me Aged Care Navigators has been assisting older people and their families to find the right care, that is, choosing a home care package provider that is right for their specific needs since we launched in 2019.

We're also the carers for our own ageing parents and have extensive experience working with both traditional and self-managed home care package providers.

Because we use video conferencing as an option, we advise people all over Australia about their care finding options. You will still get a wonderfully comprehensive assessment, expert care and guidance and be provided with the knowledge to make informed choices.

Our knowledge and experience is what's valued by our clients and recognised as making what can be a confusing and stressful decision much clearer.

We'd love to hear from you

We're passionate about ensuring people understand the aged care system

Not sure what service you need?

Send us a message and we'll contact you to help you decide.