Once you have chosen a Home Care Package provider that best meets your needs, they must provide you with a Home Care Agreement.
You must enter into a Home Care Agreement before your Home Care Package services start. This page covers areas to consider and discuss with your provider to create your Home Care Agreement:
What is included in my Home Care Agreement?
Your Home Care Agreement is a contract between you and your provider. It sets out:
- what services will be provided
- how your services will be provided
- who will provide them and
- how much they will cost
This includes your care plan and package budget.
Your care plan
Your provider develops your care plan but you are part of the discussions. The care plan should outline your care needs and how these needs will be met. It should also consider the care provided by your carers, family and friends or any other supports available where you live.
Once developed, a final copy of your care plan must be given to you within 14 days of your services starting. Your provider cannot change your care plan without your permission, but you can request changes at any time.
Your care plan may include the following:
Personal goals are an important part of your care plan. They set out what you would like to achieve through your package and can help guide your selection of care and services. A goal can be something like achieving independence in mobility. Your goals should be linked to your assessment. Your service provider must help you identify your goals and design a care plan to help you reach them.
Your care needs
This is the area of your life where you’ve been assessed as needing extra care and support. Your provider will already have some information about your care needs from your assessment. But you will both review these care needs regularly, discuss your preferences, and make changes as necessary.
Services are subsidised support to help you to stay independent at home for as long as possible.
The support is provided through a Home Care Package – a coordinated mix of services that can include nursing, personal care, light gardening, cleaning, minor home modifications and allied health services. Find out more about Home Care Packages.
Your care plan includes the exact care and services that will be provided to meet your goals and needs. It will also cover who will provide the services, when they will be delivered and how often.
You should discuss the possible list of care and services with your provider. If there is a type of service that you feel would best meet your assessed care needs, the provider must do what they can to help you access it if the service is included under the program. This may include sub-contracting services from other organisations. Your provider will still be responsible for your package if this happens.
As it may increase the costs charged to your Home Care Package, any extra costs should be made clear to you before you agree to a subcontracted service.
From 1 January 2023, your provider must not charge a separate amount for third-party services, even if you chose the third-party to provide those services. Your provider must agree on an all-inclusive price with you before starting services or purchasing any goods. You should look at service costs, care management and package management charges when considering the prices listed by your provider.
Your care management
Your care plan should outline your provider’s approach to care management. Some providers offer the option for you to be involved in the management of your Home Care Package. Your provider will discuss these options with you and the care plan will outline the level of involvement you’ve chosen to have.
Care management is a service providers must deliver to you even if you choose to self-manage. Self-management means you are more actively involved in your care planning. This will look different for everyone. Your provider may decrease their care management charges depending on how involved you are in your care planning. This must be negotiated with your provider.
Your provider is still responsible for meeting the requirements of the program even if you choose to self-manage. This includes checking the quality of care workers.
To provide care management, your provider must:
- regularly assess your needs, goals and preferences
- review your home care agreement and care plan
- ensure your care and services align with other supports
- partner with you and your family or carers about your care
- ensure your care and services are culturally safe
- identify and address risks to your safety, health and well-being.
From 1 January 2023, your provider must not charge more than 20% of the package level for care management.
For more information on care management see our Connecting with service providers page.
Your package management
Package management is the range of administrative organisational activities associated with ensuring the quality, smooth delivery and management of a Home Care Package such as:
- establishing and managing home care budgets
- coordinating and scheduling services and workers
- preparing invoices and monthly statements
- fulfilling compliance, regulatory and assurance activities.
From 1 January 2023, your provider must not charge more than 15% of the package level for package management.
Your package budget
Your package budget sets out the total amount of funds available for your assessed care needs. It breaks down how the funds will be spent. Your package budget is made up of:
- the Government’s contribution:
- The subsidy (and supplements, if eligible)
- your contribution:
- Your basic daily fee (which everyone receiving a Home Care Package can be asked to pay)
- Your income-tested care fee (if you have been assessed as being able to contribute by Services Australia)
- Any additional fees you agree to.
Your chosen provider will develop the budget with you based on your care plan. All care and services provided to you must be achievable within your package budget. You cannot use your package budget for services or items that are excluded from the program such as buying food, travel for holidays or entertainment activities.
What happens to unspent funds?
You are encouraged to work with your provider to make the best use of your package by fully using the package budget to meet your assessed care needs and goals. Any funds not used in a month are known as unspent funds. Unspent funds are generally held in your Home Care Account set up by Services Australia.
You may choose to set aside a small part of your package funds for a planned future event, such as the cost of respite when your carer goes away or purchasing equipment.
Your monthly statement of available funds should include funds from the previous month that have not been spent. These unspent funds must be held by your provider or Services Australia and can be used as part of your package over time, including if your care needs change.
If you change providers, your existing provider has 70 days to finalise invoices and submit claims to Services Australia before any unspent funds are transferred to your new provider. In the meantime, your new provider can use your existing monthly subsidy to cover the costs of your care and services.
If you leave care, you must return within 70 days. Otherwise, your unspent funds will be returned to the Australian Government.
Can my package budget be changed?
Your package budget can’t change without your knowledge. Your provider can review the budget and make changes with your agreement if:
- changes are made to your care plan
- the provider’s costs change
- you request a review of your package budget.
Staff travel is a common charge. It covers some of a provider’s costs for a staff member who travels between your home, their office and/or home to provide care and services. This can include things like care management, nursing and garden maintenance.
Staff travel is different from transport or social services costs. In these situations a staff member travels with you to appointments or events.
- publish staff travel prices on their listing in the Find a provider tool
- include any staff travel costs in your home care agreement, monthly statements and pricing schedules.
Your provider must give you monthly statements once services begin. Your monthly statements will show you:
- your financial contribution and the government’s financial contribution into your Home Care Package each month
- how these funds are spent on agreed services and items each month
- your unspent funds balance, including whether it is held by your provider or in your Home Care Account.
Talk to your service provider about how you want to receive your statement - paper, email, or web-based.
Tips for planning
When developing your care plan and package budget with your provider, it can be helpful to ask yourself the following questions:
- What is important to me when it comes to my care?
- What kind of things might help to improve my day-to-day life?
- What support do I need to stay safe?
- Where and when do I want support?
- How much could I be asked to contribute to my care costs?
What are my rights and responsibilities?
You and your provider enter into a Home Care Agreement as equal partners. You have rights and responsibilities to help you manage this partnership.
Your service provider must give you a copy of the Charter of Aged Care Rights, which sets out the expectations for you and your service provider.
You can read more about this on our Rights and responsibilities page.
Where can I get help to understand my Home Care Agreement?
Your provider has a responsibility to make sure that you understand the terms of your Home Care Agreement. It should be written in a way that you can understand. You can also ask questions if anything is unclear. Your agreement can be provided in other languages if you need it. You have the right to seek independent legal advice before entering into an agreement.
To help you develop your Home Care Agreement with your provider, you can ask for an advocate to represent you or help you during this process.
An advocate could be someone like a carer or family member, or it could be an advocate found through the National Aged Care Advocacy Program. Organisations such as the Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN) also provide free advocacy services.
An advocate can help you by:
- setting up or explaining the Home Care Agreement, care plan and package budget
- talking and negotiating with your service provider about the fees you contribute to your Home Care Package budget
- talking about any concerns you may have.
You may also want to ask a family member or friend to read your Home Care Agreement.
How do I enter into my Home Care Agreement?
Once you understand and are satisfied you can enter into your Home Care Agreement.
What if I can’t sign the agreement?
If you cannot sign the Home Care Agreement for physical or medical reasons, your chosen authorised representative can sign on your behalf, for example someone who has a power of attorney.
Can I choose not to sign the agreement?
You can choose not to sign the Home Care Agreement. Your home care provider still needs to talk with you about how involved you would like to be in managing your Home Care Package and designing the type of care and services you need.
They will record the reasons for you not having signed a Home Care Agreement and the basis of the care that you are getting. The service provider should always be able to provide proof that an ‘in-principle’ agreement is in place.
Once you start receiving the services you have agreed to, you will have entered into an agreement even if you didn’t physically sign the Home Care Agreement.
Can my provider end my Home Care Agreement?
Once you have entered into a Home Care Agreement, your provider must deliver your Home Care Package services for as long as you need them. This is called ‘security of tenure’. Your Home Care Agreement should include detailed information about this.
A home care provider may stop providing services if you do not meet your responsibilities within your control. If your provider can no longer deliver services for reasons of their own, they must help you to find a new and suitable provider in your area to take over your care.
For more information on your rights and responsibilities, see our Rights and responsibilities page.
If you want to end your Home Care Agreement, please read our Managing services page.