The advice care finders are offering to consumers seeking help navigating the highly complex home care system is under a cloud amid allegations of commissions for successful placements.
Mark McBriarty, executive director of My Care Solution, told HelloCare a care finder approached his organisation about becoming a ‘preferred provider’.
The deal proposed was that My Care Solution would pay the care finder a 7 per cent ‘trailing commission’ for every package the care finder brought in – ongoing, until the client either moves into residential care or dies.
The care finder has “no responsibility after that introduction for the value of quality of care” but they seek to be “compensated, ongoing, for it,” Mr McBriarty said.
“If you don’t sign up with them, you don’t get recommended,” he said.
Care finders spend “quite a bit” to appear at the top of search engines, where they appear with the claim they can direct consumers to the best home care providers and there is no fee for the service.
“I think it’s mischievous,” Mr McBriarty said. “At the end of the day, they are charging a fairly substantial fee of 7 per cent of the total value of the package.”
For a Level 4 package, the commission amounts to $3,750 per annum – and ultimately, the home care package is depleted by this amount.
Home care providers recoup the cost of the commission through higher care management fees, a higher hourly rate, and, in the end, fewer hours of care for the care recipient.
Mr McBriarty said he knows of three or four care finder organisations, including the larger ones, who are offering these trailing commissions for recommendations.
Counsels assisting the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety have recommended care finders be part of the future aged care system with the role of providing local, face-to-face help for people seeking aged care services.
They proposed that care finders be employees of the government or “demonstrate aptitude for a highly trusted role”.
“I look forward to independent care finders working with clients to find the most suitable provider after assessing all available options,” said Mr McBriarty. “Unless you are selecting from the whole field [of home care providers] out there, you’re giving people limited choice.”
“The whole idea of consumer directed care is they have broad choice and all options should be explored.”
In order to ensure consumers are receiving the most accurate and suitable advice, transparency about all fees and commissions is essential.
“There are some great people out there in residential [aged care] who are charging clients an up-front fee of $600–$700 to find the best place for them. They have a great handle on where the vacancies are and what the culture is in each place,” Mr McBriarty told HelloCare.
“There’s absolutely room for that to occur, but it’s either a fee-for-service arrangement, or they be a little more transparent about exactly who they’re promoting,” he said.
People who are looking for home care either for themselves or for a loved one should ask care finders how they choose which home care providers are in the pool they recommend from, and how they choose which is the most suitable provider for them.
If they aren’t recommending a home care provider you know of, ask them why, and ask about trailing fees and commissions they receive.