On 27 February 2017 amendments to the Aged Care Act 1997 will open up opportunities in the home care market. From that date, organisations will no longer need to have an allocation of packages to provide home care to approved care recipients. This will provide an opportunity for new organisations to enter the market.

Retirement living operators are uniquely placed to capitalise on these opportunities by providing home care services within their villages. There are a range of models that could be adopted by retirement living operators for this purpose. They include providing services directly as an approved provider under the Aged Care Act, partnering with an existing approved provider, or sub-contracting service delivery to other organisations.

Retirement living operators who consider becoming an approved home care provider can now take advantage of a more streamlined application process. The application is made by submitting an Application for approval to provide aged care form,which is available from the Department of Health (click here). It can take up to 90 days for an application to be approved.

To complete the application, you will need to detail your experience in providing aged care or other similar services alongside a description of how your organisation will ensure compliance with the responsibilities of aged care providers and the rights of consumers under the Aged Care Act. For any new organisation, this will be the most challenging part of the application as it requires some knowledge of the Aged Care Act.

Providing aged care within your retirement village, whether directly or indirectly comes with a range of regulatory and commercial challenges. For example, all home care providers must meet the Home Care Standards and undergo regular audits by the Aged Care Quality Agency. Approved providers are also subject to scrutiny from the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner and the Department of Health. In addition to the aged care legislation, operators in some states will also need to comply with the regulations governing supported residential services.

As leading advisers to the retirement living, aged care and home care industry, Russell Kennedy Lawyers can assist you in obtaining approval to provide home care into your village, provide advice on other service delivery models and help you manage the challenges associated with providing care in your village.