Unspent home care package funds are the total amount of fees, government subsidies, and government supplements paid to the home care provider, that haven’t been spent on that client yet.
Unspent home care package funds are typically accumulative. Funds get transferred on a monthly basis to home care providers.
Increasing Choice in Home Care
The Federal Government’s introduced “Increasing Choice in Home Care” measures.
These measures saw the introduction of consumers being able to transfer providers.
This meant that they could move any unspent package funds with them to their new provider. This change came into effect from 27thFebruary 2017.
Unspent funds prior to 1 July 2015
If you were the recipient of a home care package prior to 1 July 2015, any unspent funds prior to this date weren’t transferrable upon changing providers.
This means that only funds received after 1 July 2015 were tranferrable to the new provider.
Furthermore, whatever the balance of unspent funds was on 1 July 2015, remained with the original provider, if the consumer decided down the track to change providers.
The reforms were to give consumers more choice with their home care packages. However, was it in the consumers best interests to change providers if they were unhappy, even if they were unable to take those accumulated funds with them?
At the end of the day, it’s government funded money. So, do the providers get to keep these unspent funds. Alternatively, does the government take back these unspent funds?
Do the providers retain unspent funds?
There’s no requirement for home care providers to transfer unspent home care subsidies, or fees paid before 1 July 2015. Nor must they return unspent home care subsidies. This means that the providers can retain these unspent funds.
For further information regarding unspent funds prior to 1 July 2015, go to the Department of Health: Ageing and aged Care’s website.
From 1 March 2017, consumers can transfer providers and move the unspent funds from the previous provider with them. This is with the exception of unspent funds accumulated prior to 1 July 2015.
There’s mention that some recipients of home care packages, were unaware that they couldn’t take these accumulated funds with them. Many home care package managers have done all that they could, to inform the clients and have them utilise these unspent funds to meet their care needs.
Unspent funds/ Unmet needs
There were apparent issues with unspent home care package funds then, and there still are today, under the new system. According to Leading Age Services Australia (LASA), there are large amounts of accumulated home care package funds sitting with the providers. There are also large amounts of home care package recipients currently receiving interim, lower level packages that have unmet needs.
Under the original home care system, program level cross-subsidisation occurred to rectify the imbalance in fund allocation.
This meant that providers had the responsibility of allocating unspent funds from packages to meet the care needs of those consumers whose packages weren’t meeting their needs. This system effectively can’t work moving forward. This is due to the allocation of home care packages to the consumers.
With an obvious imbalance between unspent funds and unmet needs in home care, there are calls from the Aged Care Financing Authority (ACFA) for a review of policies in regards to unspent home care package funds.
Checking for unspent funds
Recipients of home care packages can check their monthly statements from their provider. The statement show if there’s an accumulation of unspent home care package funds.
These accumulative funds are available to meet the care goals and care needs of consumers. Consumers can ask their home care package manager for a review of their care plan at any time.
For further information regarding the types of services that you can utilise under a home care package, go to Aged Care Prepare.