If you’re thinking about the options for aged care support at home for yourself or a loved one, ‘self-managing’ a Home Care Package is an excellent option chosen by many. In a series of articles over recent weeks supported by Mable, we’ve looked at the aged care industry broadly and explored everything you need to know about self-management.
If you’re now at the point where you have a Home Care Package sorted and have selected a provider that enables self-management, you can shift your focus to some of the more practical aspects, like identifying which services you really need and want and finding your support workers.
As we’ve previously highlighted in this series, when you self-manage, you’re giving you and your family greater freedom to choose how you want to maintain your wellbeing at home and get the most out of life, your way.
In this article, we’ve provided a guide to the key steps and factors involved in ensuring you or your loved one can get the most out of that self-managed Home Care Package.
How do I work out what services are right for me?
It’s the role of every approved provider to make sure the recipient of a package is receiving the right type of services to help promote their wellbeing at home. When you opt to self-manage a Home Care Package, your chosen provider will help you to build out a Care Plan most suited to your individual needs.
Establishing how much funding is available as part of the package is an important first step. Funding will differ from person to person depending on the level of the package as well as other factors. What you have available to spend can be finalised after fees have been paid to the package provider. You can use the funding for whatever services you or your loved one requires, but they do need to be within government guidelines and in line with your Care Plan.
From there, it’s about establishing what services are your top priorities – the services you and your family really need and can’t do without; the things you’d like to have if you can make it work; and the things that are low priorities or only needed occasionally. After your package assessment, it’s likely you’ll already have an idea of what these service priorities are but it’s important to have realistic expectations about what your funding can cover, so clarity around your preferences and priorities is essential.
This will vary depending on the individual. For example, some people might prioritise grooming and personal care, while others might be more interested in help to maintain their home or garden or having a support worker assist with day-to-errands like getting groceries or going to the post office. Also consider how often you or your loved one will need a support worker, and if any family members have capacity to do some things from time to time. It’s all about getting the balance working to meet your needs and preferences.
Connecting with support workers
If you’ve chosen a Home Care Package provider that offers genuine self-management, you’ll have the freedom to find and hire your own support workers. These are the people who will come to your home to help you with the things (provide the services) that you’ve decided are your priorities.
Having control over who your support workers are, is a significant benefit of self-management and is one of the main reasons many older people opt for this course.
Finding the right support workers may feel like a daunting task, but a platform like Mable can streamline the process. Through their website, you can search and connect with independent support workers in your local community and review their profiles. Mable arranges insurances on behalf of the support workers who offer their services through the platform.
Once you’ve made the online connection, you can organise to meet and discuss your individual needs and establish details like rates and hours. Most of us have our own ideas about who we want coming into our homes and there might be special skills, characteristics or values we’re looking for – like speaking a language or sharing some interests – so it’s worth thinking about those aspects up front as part of the process.
Deciding how many people you want in your support team is also important. While you might need a couple of people with specific skills (maybe a physiotherapist or a nurse) to meet some of your needs you might find a couple of other people who can do most of the other things. Having just a few key support workers – rather than five or six different people – coming at a time and frequency that works for you, can simplify your support schedule and keep things running smoothly day-to-day.
As a guide, someone might choose to have one or two regular support workers who come to their home to do the cleaning, help prepare a meal and provide transport to the shops or medical appointments. Then, they might have another support worker who does gardening and home maintenance less regularly while engaging a nurse or allied health professional to support their weekly health priorities.
Managing your chosen support workers
Once you’ve found support workers who understand your priorities, self-managing is all about establishing and maintaining a schedule that suits you – but ideally suits you both. When you engage a support worker, you’re hoping it will be the start of a long-term and trusted relationship so being clear about expectations on both sides and keeping good open communication from the outset is the best foundation.
The process of finding the right support workers may involve some trial and error, but unlike more traditional services where you just get the support workers who are rostered on that day, using a platform like Mable, you do have choice and control. You can trial any number of workers to make sure you get that right fit on skills, personality, and values. And once you find the right balance, it will be more than worth the effort.
This article is the final part of series Women’s Agenda has been published with Mable. You can find the first four parts of the series below.
Part One: How to start conversations with loved ones about aged care options
Part Two: How women are carrying the added load of organising aged care options for loved ones
Part Three: Explainer: What to know about in-home Aged Care and support
Part Four: Everything you need to know about self-managing Home Care Packages