Your guide to comparing home care providers

It might seem like an overwhelming task at times, but shopping around for a home care provider – for yourself or a loved one – can actually be an exciting experience.
There’s plenty to think about and do, so it’s important you do your research and find an organisation that fits your lifestyle and is passionate about meeting your needs.

To make things as hassle-free as possible, we’ve put together this simple guide to help you find your perfect home care match.

Middle aged couple planing and budgeting at home

Get started early

Depending on when you start your search, there may be a national waiting list to receive a government-subsidised home care package. All that means is that the sooner you start comparing providers, the better.

To familiarise yourself with all the providers, it’s important to:
• Create a list: Make a list of all the services you want and when you will need them. Many providers offer the same or similar services, but their costs will likely vary. This list will help when comparing ‘apples with apples’

• Know what you’re looking for: Maybe you have unique language or cultural considerations, or perhaps you would prefer to get out of the home and participate in community-based activities. Home care should be about you, so make your preferences are known.

• Clarify what’s available near you: Find out which home care providers offer services in your local community. Visit My Aged Care or call them on 1800 200 422 to get all the vital information

• Build a list of questions: Doing your research means you’ll know the right questions to ask. You also won’t feel pressured into making a rushed decision, which will give you peace of mind to make the right choice

Are they the right ‘fit’?

Do you want to know everything there is to know about your home care provider so they are exactly what you’re looking for? Why not:
• Read the ‘About Us’ page of their websites and see what each organisation stands for
• Research their values and see whether they align with yours
• Ask whether they are an approved provider and find out if they have experience in providing home care
• Read testimonials and reviews from current and past clients.

Openness and transparency are key

All great relationships are rooted in honesty, so it shouldn’t be hard to see which home care providers are transparent and which are not. After all, you’re inviting these people into your home, so it’s your right to expect openness and genuine flexibility.

Transparency is particularly important around fee structures. Since your needs might change over the coming years, you need to ensure you won’t get stung with unexpected expenses down the track. Also be aware that different home care organisations present their prices and fees in different ways. Keep an eye out when comparing their services and respective fees.

Great questions to ask your potential provider

Ready to speak with your list of potential providers but unsure where to begin? Consider asking these questions:
• What is the maximum number of hours I can get per week of the actual services I want – without paying any top-up or daily fees? (This is the single-most important question you can ask!)
• Can you list all the additional fees you charge on top of actual support hours? (Administration, case management, exit or start-up fees, or core advisory charges are common)
• Do you charge for phone calls or any assistance with managing the package?
• What is the hourly rate for your services? (Also ask if these are more expensive at certain times of the week, as this is sometimes the case)
• How much notice would I need to give you before I can switch providers?
While chatting with your potential providers, pay close attention to the following:
• Do they ask questions about your needs? (This is a good sign they’re listening and will be able to personalise a plan for you)
• How do they respond to your questions? Are they open and helpful with their answers, or are they curt and evasive?
• How willing are they to help, even if you are reviewing your options and may end up choosing another provider?

Always consider the hours

What’s more important to you: a provider that offers a slightly less expensive hourly rate, or one that offers significantly more hours of services?

It’s a common mistake to simply go with the cheapest option without reviewing the hours-to-services ratio. Look closely at what kind of service you’ll get for those fees, and also review each provider’s track record of delivering the level of support you’re looking for or might need in the future.
The best providers will be happy to show you an example of a monthly statement. It should be easy to understand and clearly show the costs for actual care hours, separate fees, and any accrual of unspent funds for you to use later.
Be aware that some providers have hidden costs and charges, so ask for a full list of expenses.

Quality staff is indicative of quality service

Quality of care at all times should be a top priority when comparing providers. After all, you’ll be calling upon your provider at times when close family and friends aren’t around to help.

Look for an organisation that hires its own staff, rather than one that hires through an agency. Most companies have robust systems in place when they employ staff directly, ensuring both a high quality of in-home assistance and consistent staff for clients. It also means the staff are properly trained to deliver all appropriate services, including any cultural and language-specific needs you might have.
Consistency in care is also important. It’s so much more comfortable when you know the same people will be providing your care. It builds trust, gives you confidence in the services provided, and develops a quality relationship between carer and client. Best of all, it means they will notice the little things, which ensures the very best care while you maintain your independence.

Will they go ‘above and beyond’?

Ultimately, home care is about you. That’s why it’s so important to find a provider who is both passionate about meeting your needs and understanding about your desire to do things on your own terms.

Ask whether the provider offers services beyond basic care. For example, are there regular social programs and events? Are they always on the lookout for new ways to make life easier for their clients?

A provider that is willing to help you at the start is one that will always be there for you – from offering advice on their services, to choosing a final provider, to changing your services when you need to. If they are willing to help even when they know you might not choose them as your provider, that’s a terrific endorsement for their level of care.

Ready to switch providers or get started on your home care journey? We can help you get things moving by visiting the join us page.

 

Get help to compare

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FAQs

  • I’m in a queue for home care and can’t wait
    Most types of Government subsidised home care have long waiting lists. If you are waiting for a home care package but need some support in the interim then our Quick Start program might be right for you. You can also explore Respite Care options, some which can be accessed if you are providing regular support to a loved one or friend. Other Government programs like the Commonwealth Home Support Program may also offer some relief. Contact us for more information about further emergency options.