Jul 04, 2022

Over half of home care clients could be slogged with fee increase

Over half of home care clients could be slogged with fee increase

A recent change to an award rate for home carers will see the cost passed on to some clients, with older people potentially paying a 20% increase in fees.

Recent changes, from 1 July, to the Social, Community, Home Care and Disability Services Industry Award 2010 (SCHADS Award), which covers part-time and casual support workers, requires staff on this award to be paid a minimum of two hours work per shift or a portion of a broken shift.

While these changes are seen as a win for home care and community workers, the cost of these changes could start to impact vulnerable people receiving home care services.

The aim of these changes, reviewed and designed by the Fair Work Commission (FWC), is to attract more workers to the home care sector.

Council on the Ageing (COTA) Australia has reported an increase in complaints due to the rise in home care fees.

Chief Executive of COTA, Ian Yates, says the organisation has also received complaints about providers telling consumers they have to have two continuous hours of service when that is not what the Award change means.

“Home care workers under the SCHADS Award can deliver care to more than one recipient at more than one location as part of their minimum two hour shift. COTA points out that NDIS [National Disability Insurance Scheme] providers have been dealing with this requirement for some time,” explained Mr Yates.

COTA is encouraging home care consumers to review the advice from the Department of Health in regards to the new changes to the SCHADs Award.

Other changes to the Award that have come into effect include:

  • Home care workers being able to receive a damaged clothing allowance
  • Higher pay if a home care worker has two breaks in a shift
  • New rules around pay and make-up time in the case of a customer cancelling a service

The home care sector has indicated that these new changes could potentially see half of home care providers passing on the cost to their clients.

Industry peak body, Aged & Community Care Providers Association (ACCPA), did a survey of their member home and community care providers which found that 90% have already taken steps to prepare for the changes by consulting with their clients and staff.

This survey also found that half of home care providers expect for client fees to increase due to the change, by up to 20% increase.

Interim Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of ACCPA, Paul Sadler, said he wants to see the Federal Government provide more funding to make sure the quality of care current customers receive is not impacted by the change.

“Clients and staff could experience disruption for some months as providers work through solutions…but there must be clear communication with clients in particular before any changes are made and agreed to,” explained Mr Sadler.

“The FWC decision means that home care staff must be paid for a minimum of two hours when they go out to attend to clients even though the task may take one hour and the employee had previously been paid for [only] the one hour.”

Mr Sadler said the new Award provision “can be accommodated” through rostering that ensures an employee can move between home care clients over a minimum of a two-hour shift or portion of a broken shift. 

However, he believes this could become an issue for clients who are based in rural or remote areas and need a particular employee or have specific service times outside of normal hours.

Mr Sadler said he wants the Government to make adjustments to how providers are paid to make sure an older person, an employee, or a provider is not “out of pocket”.

ACCPA is encouraging home care providers to talk and work with their staff and clients about any changes.

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