What is Consumer Directed Care?

Your life and wellbeing should be under your control, and the aged care sector not only knows this, but has encouraged facilities to also begin acknowledging clients’ need to access more control. That is why they have implemented, along with the support of the federal government, the approach of consumer directed care.

This approach is both a philosophy and a model of care that intends on granting you and your carers more choices over what kind of services you want. By allowing for self-directed care, the future of our aged care sector is being built on protecting your rights and individual needs as an older person.

What is Consumer Directed Care in Aged Care?

At its core, consumer directed care means granting older people more control and choices on what services they are given, when they are given, as well as where they are given. Not only does this allow for the management of your own personalised services, it also means that service delivery can come from someone of your choice, and even occur in the comfort of your own home.

Otherwise, you can choose to receive care at the residential care facility that is right for you, which you can usually identify through their reputation, provided services, and your impression of them. It may be hard to determine what kind of facility works best for you, but those that have advertised their usage of consumer directed care can often be trusted to provide independence at the best price.

Luckily, the decision making process around consumer directed care is conducted alongside your chosen service providers, setting out what your exact requirements are, as well as the individual goals you wish to achieve. You can choose how much involvement you wish to have in making the decisions, but the cost of the services and how that money is spent will be clearly outlined regardless.

The purpose of this approach is allowing older people to continue managing their own life, regardless of any difficulties they face as they enter aged care.

It should be noted, however, that the consumer directed care approach is only available for those who have chosen the services of the Home Care Package. 

What Does Consumer Directed Care Involve?

For anyone looking into getting new home care packages, or beginning your first step into home care, you must first be assessed for whether or not you are valid to receive aged care. This assessment is conducted by the Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT), and you must have their approval before the federal government grants you subsidised aged care assistance. This assistance includes home care packages and the consumer directed care that it included within this package.

Luckily, approval is granted during the assessment, so you do not need to wait to see if you can begin experiencing the benefits of consumer directed care.

Furthermore, the procedure of incorporating consumer directed care services into your life requires some degree of involvement by you or your care worker. This involvement is mainly guiding the provider towards what care plan works best for you, or managing the cost of these expenses.

If you choose to utilise consumer directed care in your home care package, you will:

  • Have a budget allocated to you and your home care package, with your decision on how the funds are to be spent being final.
  • Receive regular expense statements on how much of your monthly income is left, as well an outline on the funding you have spent on specific services.
  • Be able to save any of the unspent funding allocated to you for use later on.
  • Control how much involvement and support you would like from your service provider, including working together in deciding what services you may need or want.
  • Have regular contact with your service provider as they monitor your level of care and ensure it is still reaching your requirements.
  • Be able to request a reassessment of your home care package if you feel like your current needs have changed. If your needed level of care is not attainable under this package, you can reassess to see if you are eligible for a higher level of services. However, the cost of these additional services may need to be covered by your own financial assets.

The Benefits of Consumer Directed Care

For those interested in applying for the consumer directed care model, it is highly likely you are invested in maintaining independence and a strong sense of control over any services you may receive. By providing services within the safety of your own home in conjunction with the home care package, consumer directed care means that you:

  • Can choose how much actual involvement you wish to have with managing your home care package.
  • Have the right to have your needs assessed and provided for with personalised services.
  • Can access any services or care in your own time, granting you continued independence.
  • Have the choice in deciding who will provide your chosen services and when.
  • Discuss and plan your own care plan with the help of your service provider.
  • Can have a mutually respectful relationship with your service providers, allowing for the rights and responsibilities of both parties to be recognised.
  • Will receive all of the necessary information around your budget, including the contents of your personalised budget, the costs of the services, and how your home care package is being spent.
  • Will be able to monitor your home care package to ensure it is still meeting your care needs.

For older people looking to start receiving aged care, having more control over the management of your health may only feel right when it is provided within the safety of your own home. Fortunately, any of the assessment processes and discussions can be done along with your care worker where you are most comfortable.

This also allows your service provider a clear picture of the environment they will be working in, and to better identify your care needs and challenges as they exist in everyday circumstances. This way, you will get the full benefits of the consumer directed care model.

consumer directed care

What are the Principles of Consumer Directed Care?

There are six principles that direct the consumer directed care model. They continue to uphold the beliefs that a clients’ individual needs come first, and that their health relies on ensuring their independence by granting more choice and control of services.

These six principles are:

  1. Your rights as one of the clients of the aged care sector will be upheld and respected
  2. You will have control and choice over your care as a consumer
  3. You can participate in managing your care as much or as little as you wish
  4. You and your service provider will have a mutually respectful and balances partnership
  5. How your home care package is used and what services you will receive will be outlined with full transparency
  6. You have the the guarantee that your service provider will assist with your health and your progress towards staying able-bodied

How to Apply Consumer Directed Care in Aged Care

For service providers to ensure that the health and independence of their clients are met, they are required to meet certain criteria outlined in the model of consumer directed care. These requirements include:

  • Co-producing a care plan with the input of their clients
  • Having conversations with clients on consumer needs and goals
  • Ensuring consumers’ needs are met through ongoing monitoring and reassessments
  • Allowing consumers to how much they wish to be involved with managing their home care package
  • Providing full transparency around the funding of the consumers’ package

While consumer directed care was implemented into community-based aged care services by 2015, the residential aged care sector has introduced the model with the intent of shaping new home care packages. This means that while community aged care has a longer history of consumer directed care, the residential aged care sector has delivered more modern ideas for providing services for consumers’ health.

An Example of Consumer Directed Care in Aged Care

At Kew Gardens, we apply ourselves to upholding the principles of consumer directed care, as well as providing services that give consumers access to full control of their care needs. Our residential care provides our clients with a strong connection to the community, making them feel like they are in their own home with the help of our home care services and the guidance of consumer directed care.

By upholding our motto of healthy ageing, not only do we ensure our clients’ health, or that the federal government’s funding is well-spent, we also allow older individuals to give themselves a head start into the later years of life.

Not only that, but our services go above and beyond the expectations set by consumer directed care, and we aim to support your consumer experience by:

  • Not only providing services based on your current needs and capabilities, but also encouraging you to introduce and complete services that will build on your skills. This way, not only are your individual needs met, but you are encouraged to continue to learn more abilities even as you get older.
  • Ensuring that you stay connected to your family and the community throughout your residential care. We provide the chance to go out on numerous events and activities, many of them being consumer directed so you can have more control over what you can enjoy.
  • Providing your care worker with the chance to build up knowledge of your personality and needs through our various care services. Whether it is through music, aromatherapy or physiotherapy, each of your assigned workers and doctors will help you determine what services work best for you, while also connecting with you on a personal level.
  • Having a higher than normal ratio of care worker to resident ratio so that all of your needs are met whenever you wish them to be.
  • Providing quality care and support services for consumers who need it, including: high care, respite care, dementia care and palliative care.

If you are determined to keep your family and community close, while also maintaining independence as you enter residential care, Kew Gardens is an excellent choice. You can learn more about our services beyond consumer directed care on our resources page, including how to contact us or apply to our Melbourne aged care facility.

Nov 16, 2022