Home care services

  • Home aged care is a Commonwealth Government program that supports older people with needs to help them stay at home. It is run by the Department of Health and Aged Care, Services Australia and the Aged Care Quality and Safeguards Commission.
  • Consumers have rights under the consumer law when they buy home care goods or services.
  • Consumers also have rights, and home aged care suppliers have responsibilities under specific Aged Care laws, which are administered by the Department of Health and Aged Care, and the Aged Care Quality and Safeguards Commission.
  • Small businesses have rights and protections when dealing with other businesses in the home care sector.

What the ACCC does

  • We educate consumers and businesses about their rights and responsibilities under the Australian Consumer Law around home care products and services.
  • We consider reports people make about consumer law issues in the home care sector. We use those reports to inform our education, compliance and enforcement work.

What the ACCC can't do

  • We don’t resolve individual disputes about home care services.
  • We don’t provide legal advice about home care services or agreements.
  • We do not administer specific Aged Care laws.

Types of home care services

Home care services are services that can help support older people who may have difficulties with particular daily tasks, so that they can stay in their home rather than moving into an aged care facility. Services may include:

  • domestic assistance, such as laundry, dishwashing, house cleaning
  • gardening and maintenance
  • meals and shopping
  • safety and security, such as personal response systems, fall detectors and medical alarms
  • social and recreational support, such as social worker visitation and support groups
  • nursing and personal care, such as bathing, mobility, dressing
  • transport services

Consumer law rights and responsibilities for home care services

All home care packages are delivered on a consumer directed care basis. Consumer directed care gives consumers the ability to choose and change their home care provider. Home care product and service providers must comply with the Australian Consumer Law.

This is the case:

  • whether consumers use their own money or government funding, such as under a Home Care Package or the Commonwealth Support Programme, and
  • in addition to the rights and responsibilities under other laws like the Aged Care Act 1997

Home care providers should:

  • give clear, honest and complete information about their products and services
  • give customers time to seek advice and make decisions
  • make sure agreements are easy to understand and do not include unfair terms
  • avoid adopting commission-based business models which might lead to pressure selling.

They should also make sure that their complaints system is easy for customers to navigate and doesn’t impact their care in any way. Having a good complaints handling system will help resolve issues quickly.

Consumers have the right to:

  • choose their own provider
  • be treated fairly and not be pressured into signing anything
  • be given accurate information before they buy
  • cancel a faulty service
  • receive a repair, replacement or refund if something goes wrong
  • change provider at any time, though exit fees may apply.

Many businesses operating in the home care sector have contracts with other businesses to provide specific products or services under a home care contract with a consumer. For example, larger providers may outsource to smaller providers for services and equipment.

Regardless of any agreement in place between businesses, the approved provider is still responsible for the consumer’s care and the quality of service they receive.

You have the right to choose your own home care provider

Take time to speak to various providers and find the best one for you. Timeframes apply to the home care package process, but use this time to ask questions and do your research. For a list of providers, call My Aged Care on 1800 200 422 or use the website www.myagedcare.gov.au.

Take your time or just say ‘no’ to uninvited direct sales

Home Care Packages won’t normally be sold at your door or over the phone, but it’s important to know your rights if you’re approached by a home care provider or any seller without invitation.

Uninvited sellers must:

  • tell you their name, the business they represent and that they’re contacting you to sell goods or services
  • give or send a copy of agreements in plain and clear language
  • give or send a form which you can use to cancel the agreement.

Avoid signing anything on the spot. It’s against the law for a business to pressure you. Salespeople must leave if you ask.

If you sign an agreement with someone who approached you without invitation, you  can change your mind and cancel the agreement within 10 business days.

Watch out for false promises

Businesses mustn’t mislead consumers, such as by making false statements or leaving out important facts. Providers must be upfront and truthful when providing you with information.

Be aware of scammers, including those who may pretend to be a business or government agency. Scammers may contact you by phone, email, social media or in person about home care or any other goods and services. Never give personal information or payment unless you are 100% sure they are who they say they are. See our scams information for more details on protecting yourself from scams.

Understand your provider agreement

Your Home Care Agreement is the contract which sets out the terms of your service for home care. If you are receiving home care under the Commonwealth Home Support Programme, you may have other types of contracts for services. Never sign anything you don’t understand - take time to look over the agreement and ask questions.

What to look for in your agreement:

  • who is providing your services, including whether the provider contracts this work out to others
  • how much the service will cost, including any exit fees
  • the details of your care plan
  • the process to transfer to a new provider.

Seek advice on your agreement

You can get assistance from an advocate, legal adviser, or a family member. You may be able to use a community legal service to assist with legal advice. Advocates can help you set up and review your Home Care Agreement, package, care plan and budget. 

Look out for unfair terms in your contracts for home care

The consumer law protects you from unfair terms in standard form contracts. A term may be ‘unfair’ if it gives more rights to a provider than to you, and those rights are not reasonably necessary for the provider. For example, a term that allows a provider to change your agreement without your consent is likely to be unfair. An advocate or legal adviser may assist you to identify unfair terms.

What to do if your contract changes

A provider might need to change your Home Care Agreement or contract for services, but they should only do so with your consent. Make sure you understand what the changes mean for you and only sign if you’re happy with the changes.

You have the right to get what was promised

When you hire or purchase goods or services in Australia you have automatic rights called consumer guarantees.

If you have a problem with any home care product or service, ask your provider to fix the problem. You may be able to get a repair, replacement product or service,  refund, or cancel a service. In some cases you may also be entitled to compensation for damages or loss because of the problem with a product or service.

Understand how your funds are spent

Check your monthly statements from your provider are correct and match what you agreed to pay. If fees on your statements weren’t agreed to or you weren’t told about them, ask your provider to explain them and provide a solution.

You can change provider any time

You can change providers for any reason including to get a better deal, to better meet your needs or because you’ve had some problems.

Check if you will need to pay an exit fee to change. Some providers charge exit fees, others don’t. If they do, the exit amounts can only come out of your unspent funds, so check your final bill.

If you were entitled to cancel your service under the consumer guarantees, your provider should not charge you an exit fee for this cancellation.

More guidance for consumers about home care services

Read our quick reference brochure on consumer rights when using home care services.

Our guidance is also available in several languages:

Arabic | العربية

Chinese simplified | 简体中文

Croatian | Hrvatski

German | Deutsch

Greek | Ελληνικά

Hindi | हिन्दी 

Italian | Italiano

Macedonian | македонски 

Spanish | Español

Vietnamese | Tiếng Việt

You can also read more about how consumer laws apply to home care arrangements in our detailed guide for consumers, families, carers and advocates.

Next steps if there’s a problem with home care products or services

If you experience a problem, your first step is to contact the business to explain the problem.

If the business doesn’t resolve the problem, there are more steps you can take. For further assistance you can contact:

You can also report consumer law issues with home care services to us.

Make a report to the ACCC

Rights of businesses in dealing with other businesses in the home care services sector

Small businesses have rights and protections when dealing with other businesses in the home care sector.

Unfair contract terms

The law protects small businesses from unfair terms in standard form contracts with other businesses in a similar way to how the law protects consumers.

Find out more about unfair contract term laws when small businesses enter into standard form contracts.

Unconscionable conduct and misleading or deceptive conduct

Just like consumers, a business can be misled or treated so unfairly by another business in a way that it is unconscionable and against the law. The consumer law applies in these cases to business-to-business behaviours.

Competing fairly

The law also bans certain practices by businesses that may limit or prevent competition.

Competition in markets results in increased innovation, lower prices, better quality products and services, and more choice for consumers.

Businesses in the home care sector need to be aware of the anti-competitive behaviours that are illegal.

More guidance for businesses providing home care services

Learn more about rules for businesses in our guide to business rights and obligations, including topics such as selling practices, unfair contract terms and how to engage with other businesses in the home care sector.

Next steps if there’s a problem between businesses in the home care sector

If there is a problem in dealing with another business, a small business’ first step is to contact the other business to explain the problem.

If the other business doesn’t resolve the problem, there are more steps you can take.

You can seek assistance through an ombudsman or dispute resolution service.

You can seek legal advice by contacting a legal service in your state or territory.

You can contact the ACCC for help understanding your options.

Contact the ACCC

See also


False or misleading claims

Telemarketing and door-to-door sales

Older Australians

Consumers with disability


My aged care