Home Projects COTA Australia – for older people

A co-operative approach empowers Australians ageing at home

A Care Together Project

Exploring the feasibility of co-ops and mutuals as an effective and sustainable service delivery model which acknowledges, enables and empowers the decision-making capabilities of people self-managing their aged care home care package.

Project location

Rural and remote areas.

TBA (Tasmania and Western Australia have been identified as potential trial sites).

What is the market failure being addressed?

Older people and their families say the existing Home Care Package (HCP) Program model falls short on offering them genuine choice and control over the day-to-day functions of their package. Many, especially those who self-manage, experience the program arrangements as imposing an unnecessary high level of provider dependence. For them, the existing model works to entrench provider paternalism and ageism rather than empowering them to use the package funds to optimise independence and the achievement of personal health and wellbeing goals.

People self-managing their HCP want a more robust service delivery model. They know, want and have the experience and skill to take more responsibility in:

  1. managing their involvement in the HCP Program
  2. choosing and coordinating the care and services that best meet their needs and goals
  3. being accountable to government and taxpayers

Older people wanting to self-manage their HCP package (approximately 10 percent of HCP consumers) are ideal candidates for the proposed co-operative model. At the completion of this project, it is anticipated increasing numbers of people will see the co-ops and mutuals approach to HCP self-management as fundamental to optimising package funds and enabling them to live independently in their own home and community for as long as possible.

What is the project seeking to achieve?

The aim of the project is to use a place-based, empowerment approach to augment the HCP Program’s goal by enabling people self-managing their HCP to maximise the choice, flexibility and control they have over: 

  • the types of services they receive 
  • how they receive services 
  • who provides the services 
  • when services are provided

Phase One

To work with older people and/or their families to investigate the feasibility of importing and sustaining co-operatives within the aged HCP program by:

  1. understanding the policy and physical infrastructure required to test the cooperative model
  2. assessing its potential to provide an innovative solution to improving the appropriateness and sustainability of home care in areas where the current service delivery platform is not empowering participants to optimise their independence and wellbeing.  

Phase Two

To establish and grow a viable and sustainable network of consumer-led Home Care Packages (HCP) cooperatives within the aged care service landscape, especially in rural and remote areas, as well as other ‘thin markets’. The establishment of a network of HCP cooperatives will heighten HCP participants’ political visibility and advocacy. 

Senior people watching television together
Ageing society concept with Asian elderly senior adult women sisters using mobile digital smart phone application technology for social media network among friends community via internet communication

Hear from COTA

Sophia Petrov, National Manager Policy Engagement COTA Australia, shared:

“We’ve been working with people aged 50 and over for more than 7 decades across a range of different areas and one of the most pervasive things we see is the increase in ageism.

“Older people receiving aged care services tell us that they want to have more control over what happens in their lives, and so that’s what our project will aim to deliver.

“Older people who self-manage their packages know they have the skills and practical experience to be more than passive recipients of care and support. They see the co-ops and mutuals model as a way of demonstrating their capability to manage their own lives.

“This project poses several challenges, but there is also the prospect of a great model emerging which genuinely puts power back into the hands of the people.”

“Our vision is to transform aged care by empowering the true decision-makers.  Power needs to be in the hands of the consumers – older people and their families.”

Related projects

Care Together is supporting the establishment of new co-operative and mutual enterprises that provide sustainable workforce solutions in areas where current approaches are not working. Explore more Care Together projects. 

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