Elderly charged thousands in exit fees by home care providers

Targeting vulnerable Australians.

Undisclosed fees as high as $4000 are being charged by home care specialists to elderly pensioners and those living with a disability for wanting to change providers.

The exit fees are crippling vulnerable consumers – many of which live pay-to-pay – concludes an investigation undertaken by The Daily Telegraph.

The rise in exit fees follows the launch of the federal government's Consumer Directed Care (CDC) program, which is intended to make home care treatment more transparent and easier to manage.

Home care providers unhappy with losing business have been slapping their clients with large, undisclosed fees in the hope of slowing the churn.

Reports place the average maximum exit fee at $417, but many charge much higher. Sydney-based St Simeon Community Services charges a maximum exit fee of $2015, while the Royal Freemasons Home Care in Victoria charges $4153.

Home care providers violating the legislative requirements for exit fees could face sanctions, warned Ken Wyatt, minister for aged care.

"Exit fees and the process for managing such fees is embedded in the Aged Care Act ... (providers who do not adhere) can be sanctioned if necessary," Wyatt told The Daily Telegraph.

"Consumers with concerns should first talk to their provider to clarify such fees and then if still not satisfied should lodge a complaint with the Complaints Commissioner."