Agreeing to a Home Care Package
Once you have chosen a home care 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.
Your Home Care Agreement
Your Home Care Agreement is a legal agreement between you and your service provider. Informed by your care plan, it sets out how your services will be provided, who will provide them, and how much they will cost.
Your care plan
You develop your care plan with your provider. The care plan should outline your care needs and how these needs will be met. It should also consider the needs of your carer - if you have one.
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 approach them about changing it anytime.
Your care plan may include the following:
Personal goals are an important part of your care plan. They state 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 maintaining a healthy lifestyle or achieving independence in mobility. 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, discuss your preferences, and make changes as necessary.
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 can 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 identified care needs, the provider has to do what they can to help you access it. This may include sub-contracting services from other providers.
As this may increase the costs charged to your Home Care Package, any extra costs should be made clear to you before you agree to the service.
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.
For more information on case management see our Connecting with service providers page.
Your package budget
Your package budget sets out the total amount of funds available for your use. It breaks down how the funds will be spent to pay for the care and services you need. Your package budget is made up of:
- 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)
- 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.
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 funds to meet your needs and goals. However, you may choose to set aside a small part of your package funds for a planned future event, such as leave of your carer.
Your monthly statement of available funds should include funds from the previous month that have not been spent. These funds must be held by your provider and remain yours to use as part of your package over time, including if your care needs change.
Can my package budget be changed?
Your package budget can’t change without your knowledge. You 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.
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?
- What kind of things might help to improve my day-to-day life?
- What do I enjoy doing most?
- What support do I need to stay safe?
- What makes my life enjoyable and meaningful?
- Where and when do I want support?
- How much could I be asked to contribute to my care costs?
Service providers can charge an exit amount if you choose to end the agreement. If they do want to charge an exit amount, they must discuss this with you and include the agreed amount in your Home Care Agreement. They must also display their maximum exit amount on this website. You can search for this using the Find a provider tool.
Your Home Care Agreement will state that your provider will give you monthly statements once services begin. Your monthly statements will show:
- charges to your Home Care Package funds for care and service
- charges made to your Home Care Package by the service provider to cover case management and other management costs
- unspent balance.
Talk to your service provider about how you want to receive your statement - paper, email, or web-based.
Your 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.
Help understanding your 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 plain English. 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.
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.
Entering into your 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 because of physical or medical problems, another person representing you may do so on your behalf.
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 helping to design 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.
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.