Commissioner's Blog: Choose your care and use your rights
Many seniors prefer to remain in their own homes for as long as possible and recent reforms in aged care now give more choice to consumers choosing that option.
Since February 2017, all government funded home care packages have been provided to individual consumers rather than allocated to approved providers. So this new model of consumer directed care allows older consumers more flexibility and choice in their care arrangements.
With more choice now available, if you are assigned a home care package it’s important to compare providers and find the care that’s best for you. So do your research, ask questions, and read testimonials and reviews before entering into any home care agreement.
When you buy goods or services you have rights under the Australian Consumer Law. The same rights apply when buying home care goods and services or receiving them under a government funded home care package. These rights are in addition to the rights and responsibilities that you have under the Aged Care laws.
As a consumer you have a right to:
- choose your own home care provider
- take your time and ask questions to make sure the agreement is right for you
- not be pressured
- honest and accurate information
- have services delivered on time and with care
- receive goods that are of acceptable quality (safe and durable).
When looking for a home care provider, it is important to understand who is providing your services. Sometimes home care providers will use third parties to deliver your services, or sometimes they will be delivered by their own employees. Ask how much the services will cost including any administration or exit fees that may apply.
The Home Care agreement is for your care, and it’s important to get it right. Seek advice from a trusted advocate, family member or legal advisor if you need to.
Once you have found a provider that you are happy with, check that you understand the agreement and ask about any terms that seem unfair. Home care providers, like all businesses, must be upfront and honest with you. A term in your agreement may be ‘unfair’ if it gives more rights to the provider than you and is not necessary to protect the provider.
If something goes wrong, you have the right to make a complaint. Speak to your provider first, but if you can’t resolve the issue, you can contact the Older Persons Advocacy Network on 1800 700 600 for assistance.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission also provides guidance about your consumer rights when using home care packages, and more information is available at www.accc.gov.au/agedcare.
And if you do choose to also explore other housing options, then contact our Seniors Housing Advisory Centre for advice on 1300 367 057, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the website at www.consumerprotection.wa.gov.au.
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