MOST people want to keep living in their own homes as they age, staying as independent as possible. Home care can help by giving you extra assistance to stay safe, comfortable and well at home.
When considering home care there are different options to choose from. What you opt for will depend on the level of care you need, how long you need it for, and whether you want to rely on government-subsidised services, private services or help from your personal networks.
The main options are either basic or short-term support through the Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHSP) or more or longer-term support with a Home Care Package.
Alternatively you may choose to use private services or rely on family and friends.
COTA has great resources and advice on choosing home care on its website. Here are some tips from COTA.
Home Care Packages and the CHSP both give you support to stay at home.
The government-subsidised Home Care Packages program provides long-term support for older people who want to stay living at home.
There are four levels of Home Care Package for different levels of care and support needs. Each level gets a different amount of funding. This can be used to buy hours of care or other support that suits your needs.
Home Care Package funds aren’t paid to you directly. Instead, you choose an approved Home Care Package provider to administer funds on your behalf and give you “case management” support.
Once you have a Home Care Package, you can keep it for as long as you need. If your needs increase, you may be re-assessed for a higher level package.
The CHSP supports older people who are still managing well at home, but want some extra assistance. The service is subsidised by government, but you have to pay some fees.
Many people use CHSP when they need low-level support. As their needs become more complex, requiring some case management assistance, they can be referred for a Home Care Package.
With the CHSP, you choose from a set menu of services (there isn’t much flexibility) and only pay for the services you use. You can dip in and out of the program as you need things.
With a Home Care Package, a case manager or case adviser helps you understand the system and work out a care plan and you decide how to spend the funding you get, rather than choosing from a menu. Once you have a package, it stays in place for the long term.
To get a Home Care Package, you need to have an assessment, which will decide what level of package you’re eligible for.
Free assessments are done by the Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT), or ACAS in Victoria.
A professional visits you in your home to find out your needs, if you’re eligible for a package and what level of help you need. To arrange an assessment, call My Aged Care on 1800-200-422.
Once you’ve received your ACAT approval, you’ll need to choose a home care provider.
Your provider gives you case management services – helping manage your package funds and arrange the services you want.
Some providers only provide case management, while others also provide home care services that you can buy with your package funds.
Home care providers are a mix of for-profit, government and not-for-profit organisations.
When choosing a provider, think about what variety of services can they provide or source and how flexible they are.
If they can’t provide something themselves, will they help you to find it somewhere else?
Also ask if they will subcontract to workers you already receive care from so you can continue with them, and how often you will see or speak with your case manager or adviser.
Check what is included in the case management fee and find out if you can be involved in self-managing your care plan and budget.
Check the costs and charges for services, including case management, administration, hourly rates and exit fees.
Ask if they will negotiate how much you pay for the basic daily fee.
HOME Care Packages are subsidised by the government, but you are asked to pay something towards the cost of the service.
The amount depends on your income, assets and circumstances.
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 package budget. 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 $146 per fortnight (equal to 17.5 per cent 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 amount, you pay an income-tested care fee. This 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.
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