If you receive in-home care under a Commonwealth Government HCP, be prepared for a call from your care provider announcing major changes!
© Danielle Robertson Consulting Pty Ltd t/as DR Care Solutions
The Fair Work Commission has made some adjustments that affect in-home care under a Commonwealth Government Home Care Package (HCP).
The changes are a result of the Commission’s four-yearly review of the Social, Community, Home Care and Disability Services Industry Award 2010. The results were published on 31 January 2022 and the changes will take effect on 1 July 2022.
The changes seek to improve the working conditions of in-home carers who work part time or casually. As such workers represent the majority of the in-home care workforce, the changes to their award will impact most Australians receiving in-home care.
Employers of part-time or casual in-home carers must, from 1 July 2022, pay such carers:
For a minimum shift of two hours (Clause 10.5).
An allowance for each broken shift in a day (Clause 20.12).
To explain the latter by example, if a part-time or casual carer works from 8 am to 10 am and then from 4 pm to 6 pm (and has one unpaid break in the day), the carer must be paid an allowance of ~$17.53 for each broken shift. As there are two shifts in this example, this would involve an extra payment of ~$35.00 for that day.
Other changes such as a laundry allowance, damaged clothing payments and better conditions for carers working in remote areas are included in the award.
Minimum two-hour carer visit
The first change will be passed on by the employer to the client. If you currently receive carer visits of one hour once a day or twice a day, these visits must now be for a minimum of two hours.
The cost of these extra hours will be passed on to you.
Receiving two one-hour carer visits a day is standard practice. Around 20% of my clients benefit from assistance in preparing and then retiring for the day, and the monitoring of morning and evening medication taking.
For those wishing to retain the two visits per day – morning and evening - this change to two x two-hour carer visits a day may have unfortunate consequences.
On the upside, other tasks may get done by the carer which previously couldn’t get done in the one hour visit.
Covering the additional cost
For most, this additional cost will not be covered by their Home Care Package and will have to be paid out of their own pocket.
This sees families doing their sums to work out whether residential care is now the only affordable answer. Family members may need to contribute to the cost of care if they want their loved one to remain at home or alternatively, provide informal care to their loved one.
The weekend and public holiday cost example
Many clients choose to have one hour visits on Saturdays (~$96 per hour), Sundays (~$122 per hour) and public holidays (~$152 per hour) to keep their care costs down.
If we take the NSW Labour Day Holiday long weekend this year (1 to 3 October 2022) as an example, the in-home care fee for a daily carer visit (from 1 July 2022 - two hours instead of one) for those three days will now come to $740, double that paid in 2021.
A client’s Home Care package may provide some form of subsidy but for the month of October 2022, I feel sure that most in this long weekend scenario will have to draw some money from their own funds to pay for their in-home care.
Home care agencies are reporting that some families have already worked out that their loved one will be better off, financially, in a residential home. This is an unfortunate outcome.
The broken shift allowance
This change is being shouldered by home care agencies however some are finding ways to pass the cost on to the client.
One example is asking clients to pay a travel allowance of $9.80 for each visit made by the carer from 1 July 2022. For clients receiving a carer visit each day of the week, this brings a weekly additional charge of $68.60 per week. Again, for most clients, this would be paid out of their own pocket rather than their Home Care package.
The content of the new award is complex. The information in this blog alone should not be relied upon to make decisions. In-home care providers, employers, employees and care recipients are advised to seek independent legal or financial advice on the implications of the changes to the award.
If you are seeking care for a loved, please don’t hesitate to call me, Danielle Robertson, for an initial discussion on how to set up the right care, support and assistance at the right time and in the right place.
 Fair Work Commission: Determination
 Clause 25.6, Social, Community, Home Care and Disability Services Industry Award 2010