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What Is Consumer Directed Care?

Post by Ruth Samer
September 8, 2023

The way we deliver care services to Australians living with a disability, life-limiting illness, or needing a little more help at home as they age, has changed a lot in recent years. These days, personalisation is at the centre of healthcare in Australia. In fact, the Australian Government introduced the Consumer Directed Care (CDC) model in February 2017, to give consumers greater choice and flexibility in how their care is delivered.

This transformation in aged care services enhances the consumers' choice and control over their care, marking a significant shift towards a consumer-centric approach for the whole care sector. At Care For Family, a consumer directed care approach has always been our philosophy, as we strive to support Australians with care services that enhance their quality of life, dignity, and independence, no matter the type of care they require.

What is Consumer Directed Care? Understanding the Principles

The CDC model is built on the principles of individuality, choice, control, and flexibility. It allows consumers to chart their own course of care. Under CDC, care isn't a one-size-fits-all approach; each person's unique needs and preferences guide their care plan.

According to the Department of Health and Aged Care, adopting a consumer-directed care strategy involves empowering individuals with choice, flexibility, and control over several crucial aspects, including:

  • the types of services they receive,
  • the manner in which these services are provided,
  • the selection of who delivers the services, and
  • the scheduling and timing of these services.


In essence, under the CDC model, the decision-making power lies with the consumer, allowing them to determine how their Home Care Package (HCP) should be utilised. For instance, one person may opt for regular physiotherapy sessions, while another may prioritise in-home personal assistance. The key is that individuals decide the kind of services they receive and when. This flexibility leads to more personalised care, fostering improved health outcomes and overall well-being.

Consumer Directed Care in Australia

CDC found its place in Australia under the Aged Care Act 1997 when the Home Care Packages Program came into existence. In February 2017, a significant change occurred, when HCP funding was allocated directly to consumers. This was a critical step in providing older Australians with enhanced choice and control over their aged care.

One of the most important features of this program is its flexibility. It offers four different levels of package funding, designed to accommodate a broad spectrum of care needs. For example, Level 1 supports basic care needs, while Level 4 caters to high care needs.

When implementing Home Care Packages, a consumer-directed care (CDC) approach means that consumers:

  • are encouraged to define their goals, which serve as the foundation for their personalised care plan,
  • are given the freedom to determine the level of their involvement in managing their care package,
  • can choose how the services are delivered, and by whom,
  • are provided with an individualised budget and receive a monthly statement detailing their funding and expenditure,
  • can expect regular communication from their provider, and are empowered to modify their supports if their needs or preferences evolve.


Thanks to CDC, consumers are empowered to choose how, when, and from whom they receive care services. Importantly, individuals with higher care needs can also benefit from residential aged care, where they still maintain control over their care and services.

A family (elderly father, mother and youthful daughter) sharing a joke.

Benefits of Consumer Directed Care

The CDC model offers numerous benefits for both consumers and providers. For consumers, the model ensures care is tailored to their needs and preferences. Their care plan evolves as their circumstances change, providing a dynamic system that adjusts to their shifting needs.

On the other hand, providers have the opportunity to build stronger relationships with their clients, enhancing satisfaction and fostering loyalty and trust. Under the CDC model, the providers are partners in care, enabling them to better understand their clients' needs and deliver more effective, personalised services.

Challenges and Considerations in Implementing Consumer Directed Care

CDC also presents certain challenges. Understanding and catering to the diverse needs and preferences of each consumer is a complex task. Striking a balance between consumer control and professional input is also crucial.

For instance, navigating the choices in a CDC model can be overwhelming for some individuals. This is where in-home care providers, like Care For Family, can provide invaluable support. By closely working with consumers and their families, care providers can help steer the decision-making process, ensuring that consumers can leverage their care funding and services for the best possible outcomes.

The Future of Consumer Directed Care

As we look to the future, we see Consumer Directed Care continuing to adapt and evolve to cater to the dynamic needs of ageing Australians. The CDC model nurtures innovation and competition among service providers, encouraging better service delivery and fostering a more consumer-centric approach in the aged care sector. With the principles of choice, control, and flexibility at its core, CDC aligns perfectly with the philosophy of Care For Family, reflecting our commitment to deliver personalised, top-quality care to each individual we serve.

To find out more about our consumer-directed care approach, and how we can help deliver the services you need, get in touch with us today.