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Final versions of Manual, Guidelines and Good Practice Guide released for the Commonwealth Home Support Program


Mod.A has just released an urgent briefing regarding of the final release of the Manual, Guidelines and Good Practice Guide for the Commonwealth Home Support Program, with an emphasis on the updated Manual, and how they impact service providers.

Today is the commencement of the Commonwealth Home Support Programme.

Overnight the Department of Social Services has uploaded final versions of key documents to its website that services need to be aware of and familiarise themselves with. They are: The CHSP Programme Manual; the CHSP Guidelines Overview; and the Living well at home: CHSP Good Practice Guide.

To promote the changes that CHSP will have to Aged Care, as well as other developments such as the My Aged Care Gateway, the department has released a Special Extended Edition of the Information for Aged Care Providers Newsletter

The CHSP Guidelines Overview is primarily directed at and should be read by all service providers. It details fundable activities and eligible populations as well as where the new CHSP is/is not being rolled out across Australia. This will be a key document to reference when DSS commences contract negotiations with each funded service provider. MOD.A is working through this document and members are welcome to contact us if they have any questions or comments.

Below is a brief summary of the key points of the CHSP Programme Manual. Please note that all page references relate to the PDF version of the document.
The CHSP Manual
The new CHSP Manual details service types. Reference to Home maintenance can be found on pages 41-42 and those for home modifications can be found on pages 43-45.

Home Maintenance – key points

  • Objectives have been altered to reflect how they assist the goals of wellness and reablement by the creation or maintenance of an environment in which the person can function safely and as independently as possible.  Services are clearly directed to the person’s environment for their wellbeing.
  • Instances of both major and minor maintenance and repairs are included, as is garden maintenance.
  • Ongoing garden services, such as lawn-mowing, ‘must directly relate to assessed client need’ and will be ‘subject to regular review’.  They stress they are not for ‘aesthetic effect’.
  • Output measures (time and dollars) remain the same as under HACC.

Home Modifications – key points

  • Reference to minor and major modifications (previously differentiated by cost - below or above $2,000) has been removed from the service description.
  • Restrictions to both services to tenants of private landlords and of social housing, where the particular requirement falls clearly under the responsibility of others, continue.
  • There is a much clearer reference to the amount of subsidy available and its intent.  It is stated in that CHSP ‘is to primarily fund simple home modifications (i.e. modifications that would incur a cost of less than $1,000 to the Commonwealth)’.
  • At the higher end ’Modifications that would incur a cost of over $10,000 to the Commonwealth are not supported …’. This makes it clear that the $10,000 relates to the subsidy and not to the total cost of a job. If a client is willing and able to pay it is still feasible that higher cost modifications can be undertaken.
  • In the Service Type Description it states that in ‘clinically justified circumstances’ higher level modifications such as bathroom redesigns, kitchen refits and door-widening can take place.
  • ‘General renovations’ are out-of-scope for the CHSP. Elsewhere in the manual it also refers to ‘purchase of land’ and ‘major construction/capital works’ as things which may not be purchased by CHSP funds.
  • ‘Project management activities’ are mentioned in relation to service delivery, specifically in relation to assisting clients in gaining permissions to have work done on the home.
  • OT assessments are not required for home modifications where the job is simple and installation can be achieved with reference to the BCA.  A non-exhaustive list of those types of jobs which may be done is provided on pages 43-44.
  • Providers are able to use funds to purchase OT assessments for those clients who require complex home modifications.
  • Funding can cover labour and materials and include costs associated with measurement, planning and project management.

The funding of the detailed assessment and design work is something that will be of great assistance (especially as clients are increasingly brought into the decision-making processes) and will assist with costs associated with clients that decline home modifications after a scope of works and costings have been presented to them. We will need to see whether the option to fund OT assessment as part of the service delivery cost will mean that home modifications jobs may be placed on the provider portal in two ways: as a job requiring OT assessment or just as a home modification referral. MOD.A will seek clarification about this and let members know.

There are no details about how grandfathering applies to either service type, and this is more problematic for home modifications than it is for home maintenance. MOD.A will continue to work with the sector and seek clarification from DSS about how this is to be applied from now on.

Chapter 4 of the Manual reiterates previous communications that a CHSP Framework will be developed that outlines principles that service providers can adopt in setting and implementing fees, leading to greater consistency and fairness. All CHSP providers will be informed of the Framework when it is finalised and the information will then be added to the Programme Manual.

As noted in our June Newsletter, for the time being services are to continue to implement their current policies. These should be guided by the existing National Programme Guidelines for HACC (see from page 24 – Draft Fees Policy), which in turn references state arrangements with their various schedules and greater detail of what and how to charge.

My Aged Care Gateway and provider portal
Both become effective as of today, 1 July 2015. New clients will need to be referred through the Gateway that will be supported by client service officers in call centres. It is anticipated that many people will have their needs identified and be appropriately referred as a result of the assessment done over the telephone, but MOD.A is of the view that where an environmental modification or maintenance is required new clients will need to be referred to the Regional Assessment Service (RAS) to be assessed in the home.

The information about the Gateway and provider portal should be known to providers by now, and here are a few key points:

  • All service providers must have an AUSKey.
  • Service provider administrators and team leaders access the portal via an AUSKey. An administrator will manage an organisation’s outlets and allocate staff access to the portal; team leaders accept referrals and assign them to individual staff.

From the scenarios and diagrams provided by DSS we have identified the following:
Portal referrals

  • Service providers will receive electronic referrals via the provider portal. Once a referral is received the service provider will have access to the client’s record.
  • Service provider will accept or reject the referral. If they accept the referral they will make contact with the client.
  • The client and service provider will agree on how a service is to be delivered.

Direct client contact

  • A client may contact a service provider directly after they have engaged with the My Aged Care Contact Centre, which will have provided them with contact details of potential service providers and referral codes.
  • Client will give the referral code to a service provider, which will enable the service provider to view the client’s record.
  • Service provider will accept or reject the referral. If they accept than the client and service provider will agree on the how a service is to be delivered.

It is not clear how non-complex and complex home modifications will be differentiated and placed as referrals on the portal. MOD.A will seek further advice on this.
As expected, the new DSS Data Exchange reporting requirements will come into effect in November 2015. Until then services are required to report as usual, using MDS. The CHSP Guidelines Overview states that performance indicators based on outcomes (has what was expected been achieved, how well and how much?) ‘may be included in the grant agreement for the grant recipient’ (p. 13) and this may require additional fields being added into existing reporting frameworks.
How will this affect services today?
The late delivery of the Manual and the transition from HACC to CHSP means there are some major changes that services need to address today:

  • referrals of new clients will come through the My Aged Care (MAC) Gateway and appear on the service provider portal;
  • services should by now be registered for the MAC provider portal and their details should now appear on the portal to receive referrals;
  • the new $10,000 cap on the subsidy for home modifications starts today.

Home Modifications Australia (MOD.A) is the peak national body that represents home modification providers for the frail aged and people with disabilities for the Home Modification and Maintenance sector and your membership of this organisation will assist you to manage the CHSP transition and plan for a better future and a sustainable service. 

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