Self-managed home care packages are one of the fastest growing areas of aged care in Australia. And with good reason. They offer the consumer more choice, autonomy and control over their aged care experience than ever before.
As more individuals look to stay in their home for longer while also seeking a higher level of customised care, understanding how to provide self-directed care arrangements well is incredibly important.
Here is an outline of self-managed home care packages, what they offer and how to make the most of them
What are self-managed home care packages?
Think of self-managed home care packages as a way of self-directing your experience of aged care in familiar surroundings. This is your opportunity to work in partnership with an organisation to stay at home for longer.
This is about what defining what care means to you. And this is a process of looking at:
- What you need help with
- What you want to look after yourself
- What options are available to you in relation to your care
- How you would like to manage that care in real terms
- How much input you want to activate your care including supports
The aim of a self-managed care plan is to support you staying at your home with as much or as little help as you need. It’s on your terms and can adapt to changes in your health profile, living circumstances and needs.
What’s included in self-managed care packages?
The beauty of self-managed care is that you get to choose what your inclusions might be. It’s about meeting your physical, mental health and emotional wellbeing. As well as your goals and day-to-day needs.
For example, maybe you are perfectly fine with tending to your physical needs, but the house cleaning and yard work is proving difficult. Or you are happy to go grocery shopping, however, need help with transportation and carrying home the bags.
All of these sorts of services can form part of your care plan. And these are by no means the limit.
You can ask for all kinds of things under a self-managed care plan including:
- Direct help with tasks related to personal care and/or around the house
- Access to particular services, skills or knowledge
- Nutrition, hydration, meal preparation and diet management
- Support for dementia, respite care and continence care
- Mental health support
- Managing illness, injury and disability support on a regular or temporary basis
- Recovery post-surgery or treatments such as chemotherapy
- Exercise, health and fitness programs
- Mobility and dexterity supports
- Activities to enrich your social and mental wellbeing
- Continuing activities and outings you already enjoy
- The addition of new programs to aid in your overall wellness
It’s about working with your care provider to create a plan that supports your choices.
Plus, your care can include meeting other needs such as:
- Culturally appropriate care – e.g., Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander specific care
- Languages other than English
- Culturally sensitive care for LGBTQIA+ community members
- Veteran care
- Experience with homelessness and/or disadvantage
- Reflecting your faith and spiritual preferences
As discussed previously, you can also delegate these activities to the person of your choosing, paying for them directly or engage a provider who manages them for you.
What to think about with self-managed care
Everyone’s care needs are different. But in order to make sure your individual care needs are met, you need to articulate what you want. This means sharing open, honest and practical information about what you do on a given day and where you need help the most.
This means you need to take an active role in self-directing the kind of care you want and need. You have to share intimate details about how you operate currently and what you would like to improve.
It also means working with anyone helping you receive care as though you are in a partnership. You will be depending on each other to get the job done, after all!
- Understanding your own self-management responsibilities
- Accepting the care provider’s policies and understanding where their obligations begin and end
- Identifying when you need help – and asking for it in a timely fashion
- Learning some new processes and welcoming some level of change into your life
- Articulating what good quality care means to you – and what you value most
- Making the most out of the information available to you
- Choosing options that support you and what you want to do
- Reviewing any plans and supports you might already have – such as your ExSitu Hierarchy of Values, advance care plan or health, disability or mental health plans
- Integrating your existing plans into your home care package
Once you have an idea what you want from your self-managed home care package, you can begin to look for resources.
Resourcing your self-managed home care packages
When you first start, self-managed home care packages need a good setup. This means thinking about what is the most practical way to manage your care as though it was a little project.
You’ll be expected to read all the information provided and to outline what kinds of things you may or may not need. This might include researching options and seeing who is available to help you with what service.
It also means having open conversations with the people who will help you with the process. This might include talking to your self-managed care provider to decide whether it will be you, their representative or a family member or nominated person who oversees the plan. You can choose to execute the plan yourself or you can handover varying degrees of control. The choice is yours.
You might need to learn a computer system, procedures or processes. They similarly may need to learn your routine and the things about you that will make your care experience successful.
There may be time needed to meet and choose which carers will be helping you. Or to figure out who out of your existing supports might be involved in helping you out.
The beauty of self-managed care packages is that you can choose from:
- Support workers you already know and trust
- Family and friends that are able to stay consistently involved
- Other support networks such as your community group, church or neighbourhood
- Providers with pre-existing relationships with your chosen management company
- Talent on existing online networks in the aged care and at home care fields
From here, you’ll need to formalise what care looks like to you, identify what supports you need and when, and nut out the working arrangements. This information then forms the basis of your care plan and the contract(s) and agreements you share with your chosen provider.
Our final tips for self-managed care packages
Always make sure you match what you want out of life with what is available. You may need to set aside time for research, conversations and planning to begin with. However, the time invested in customising your home care package is time well spent.
Look for the opportunity to make the right choices for your day-to-day needs. But don’t forget your short, medium and long term goals, too!
Understand that what you want to pay and whether you want to manage the financial side of self-managed care packages can influence how involved you need to be.
And have fun with the process. There are no right or wrong answers when it comes to customising your care. Only what looks like great care to you.