Most people like the idea of remaining in their own home for as long as possible as they grow older. Maintaining independence and control over day to day living is understandably an issue very close to peoples’ hearts – and it’s a regular topic of conversation during financial planning reviews with our retiree clients.
Until recently the model for aged care was more skewed toward residential care – with people being moved out of their own home into an unfamiliar environment.
Fortunately the system has been significantly reformed, with a growing number of people now receiving tailored care in their own home.
Home Care Packages
The Home Care Packages program helps you live independently in your own home for as long as you can. The Australian Government provides a subsidy to an approved home care provider towards a package of care, services and case management to meet your individual needs.
To find out if you are eligible for a home care package or any other help at home services, you can call My Aged Care on 1800 200 422 to discuss your options and arrange an in home assessment by an Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT).
The ACAT will determine if you are eligible for a home care package and which package level best meets your care needs. There are four levels:
- Level 1 – basic care needs
- Level 2 – low-level care needs
- Level 3 – intermediate care needs
- Level 4 – high-level care needs.
Each level of home care packages provides a different subsidy amount. This amount is paid to your selected approved home care provider. The subsidy contributes to the total cost of your services and care delivery.
Consumer Directed Care rolled out in February 2017
From February 2017 Home Care Packages are delivered on a Consumer Directed Care (CDC) basis. CDC puts you in control when making choices about the types of care and what services you wish to utilise. You can work with your service provider to develop and alter your individual care plan. You also receive income and expense statements so you can see how your package is funded.
What Services are available?
Funds can be spent on most things that relates to your care and wellbeing. The list is endless – you have flexibility and choice – you can be quite creative and persistent in getting what you want. Services need to fit within your package budget and be listed in your care plan. If you can afford to, you can pay for some extra things out of your personal funds.
There are some examples of things that people can buy:
|Common spending items||Individualised and flexible spending items|
|Personal care – showering, dressing, continence management||Podiatry, physiotherapy, counselling, speech therapy, some vision aids, companion pet|
|Home care – cleaning of house (essential areas), laundry, making beds||Professional laundering, spring cleaning, therapeutic bed mattress|
|Shopping assistance||Internet access, iPad, computer equipment, hands-free speaker phone|
|Transport to appointments, such as medical or even hairdresser (escorted by a care worker)||Fuel vouchers or taxi vouchers to use to get around without a worker needing to be present|
|Meal preparation||Basic cooking classes, meal delivery, diabetic magazine subscription|
|Basic garden and lawn maintenance||Making raised garden beds, purchase or hire of some equipment and paying towards some modifications at home|
|In-home respite care||Personal support during travelling or whilst visiting other locations|
|Medication prompts, personal alarm monitoring||Worker to help create photo memory books, go for a stroll in the park, out for coffee, walk the dog|
|Social activities and programs||Exercise programs and classes (such as hydrotherapy, yoga, massage, gym, personal trainer, treadmill, etc)|
What you pay
There are two types of fees you may be asked to pay – the basic daily fee and an income-tested care fee.
The basic daily fee is added to your budget and boosts what you can spend on care and support. Different providers charge different basic daily fees. Some providers have no fee and some use a sliding scale. The maximum you can be charged is currently $139.58/fn which is 17.5% of the full Age Pension. You can negotiate with your provider about what basic daily fee you pay.
If your income is above a certain threshold, you must pay an income-tested care fee. Your income-tested care fee is assessed by Centrelink and increases the higher your income is. The government subsidy for your package is reduced by the same amount as your income-tested care fee.
Both of these fees are the same no matter what level of package you are on.
What the government pays
The government contributes a different amount depending on your package level.
Commonwealth Home Support Program
The Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHSP) is an entry level home help program, for people who need basic or short-term support, for example, when recovering from illness.
CHSP supports people who are still managing well at home, but want some extra assistance, such as home help, delivered meals, personal care or home maintenance. The service is subsidised by government, but you have to pay some fees.
Before you can get CHSP services, you need an assessment. The Regional Assessment Service (RAS) will visit you at home to assess what services you can use. Contact My Aged Care for a referral to RAS.
If you think you need more or longer-term assistance, a Home Care Package might be better for you.
The My Aged Care website has been established by the Australian Government to help you navigate the aged care system. It is the go-to source for everything to do with aged care, but can be difficult to navigate.
Home Care Today is a national service led by COTA and funded by the Dept of Health. It’s an excellent source of information on home care and has a great Frequently Asked Questions section.
Age Care Directions is an Adelaide based private age care consultancy, who can assist in determining what services are most appropriate for your personal circumstances, and can help link you service providers in your area.