What is a home care package?
There are four levels of home care packages (HCP) in Australia. Each level is intended to meet different care needs:
- Level 1: Basic care needs
- Level 2: Low-level care needs
- Level 3: Intermediate care needs
- Level 4: High-level care needs
Each level in the program includes a specific amount of government funding, which recipients can use to secure the care they require to continue living independently. The consumer-directed nature of HCPs also means recipients have the freedom to choose the services and providers that best meet their unique needs and goals.
Home Care Package Level 4
Level 4 home care packages are designed for older people with complex care needs. As such, they cover more care hours and services than any other HCP in order to meet the high-level requirements of their recipients, who generally need daily visits and are experiencing changes to their memory or behaviour.
Recipients of this particular package are eligible to enter residential aged care; however, they prefer to receive in-home care and remain in the comfort of their own homes.
Level 4 home care packages are available to Australian residents above 65 years, as well as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals above 50 years.
How to Apply
To apply for a level 4 home care package, older Australians need to register with My Aged Care and answer questions to assess their care needs.
Once the application is submitted, My Aged Care sends an assessor from the Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT) for a free ACAT assessment to determine the applicant’s eligibility and the best home care package level to meet their care needs. ACAT assessors—who are typically nurses, social workers or health care professionals—also provide information about local home care services and help applicants obtain the care they need.
Visit My Aged Care to learn more about applying, or simply call them at 1800 200 422 to start the process.
The wait time for a Level 4 home care package is generally between 1–3 months.
Upon approval, recipients are entered into the national priority system, which allocates packages based on the date of approval and priority for care.
Approved package recipients can log into their My Aged Care account or call 1800 200 422 to track their wait time.
Features and Services of Level 4 Packages
Level 4 home care packages are the highest level in the HCP program.
Recipients can use their home care package funds for any reasonable support services to meet their high-level care needs, including daily assistance with physical, medical and social tasks. Examples include but are not limited to:
- Personal care (showering, dressing, etc.)
- Domestic assistance and household maintenance
- Nursing care
- Support for changes in memory and behaviour
- Mobility assistance
- Hire of complex care equipment
- Allied health support
- Transport services and shopping
- Meal preparation
- Medication management
- Social support
- Gardening upkeep (lawn-mowing, weeding, etc.)
- Home modifications related to care needs
- Physiotherapy and massage
Financial Aspects and Government Subsidies
The Australian Government provides a different subsidy amount for every level of home care package, and the contributions increase yearly. As of July 2023, the Government subsidy for level 4 home care packages is approximately $2,285.78 per fortnight — or $59,594 annually, calculated in daily and fortnightly subsidies.
Many home care package recipients supplement that funding with their own income-based contributions, effectively increasing the amount they have to spend on the providers, services and care workers they need.
Some Australians are eligible for additional Government-funded supplements, such as veterans, individuals living with dementia and cognitive issues, or people who require oxygen services and assistance with enteral feeding.
That said, most Australians need to pay fees out of their own income in addition to the amount they receive from government subsidies.
Basic Daily Fee
A basic daily fee is a daily care fee providers can charge for their services. It changes every year in March and September. As of September 2023, the basic daily fee for level 4 home care packages is $12.53.
However, some providers (such as The CareSide) waive this fee.
Income-Tested Care Fee
This fee is a recipient’s contribution to the costs of their home care. It is calculated through an income assessment and can range from $17.97 to $35.95 per day, as of September 2023. Just like the basic daily fee above, the income-tested care fee is subject to change every March and September.
When individuals are asked to pay an income-tested care fee, their government-funded home care package subsidy is reduced by the amount of the fee. However, providers must still deliver services based on the full value of the home care package — in other words, the only thing that changes is the source of the funds.
Additionally, not everyone is asked to pay an income-tested care fee.
The fee is waived, for instance, for Australians who have a yearly income that’s below the maximum income a person can have to be classified as a full pensioner.
Home care package recipients can use the Fee Estimator on My Aged Care to calculate how much they might have to pay out of pocket towards their package.
Maximising the Benefits of Your HCP Level 4 Package
Choosing the Right Service Providers
There are more than 1000 providers of home support in Australia.
The multitude of options in a consumer-directed marketplace like this can seem overwhelming, but it also gives Australians the autonomy to research, interview and select home care package providers that will deliver the level of support that fits their complex needs and goals.
Home care package recipients should focus on three key components while researching providers: their services, their quality and their costs.
The My Aged Care Find a Provider tool is a reliable way to sort through local providers and their services. Every provider listed through My Aged Care is regulated by the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission. That means they are meeting strict regulations and quality standards, which is why the Find a Provider tool is a trustworthy place to start searching.
It might also be helpful to seek advice from primary care doctors, or from neighbours and family members who have navigated the home-care process.
Effective Budgeting and Resource Allocation
Pricing can vary widely among providers, even when their official terms appear comparable.
In recent years, the Government has made changes to improve the transparency of fees — in other words, it’s more difficult now for providers to charge ‘hidden fees,’ which can drastically increase costs.
But it’s still very important for home care package recipients to ask the proper questions before signing a contract with a home care package provider, or have a loved one ask on their behalf. A few questions to start with might be:
- What will my total package cost for the level and services I need?
- What will my personal contribution be?
- What administrative fees do you charge?
- Will I be able to view itemised lists of all my charges?
- Do you charge additional fees for carers to travel to my home?
- What are the hourly rates for the specific service I need?
- Do you charge exit fees if I decide to end my service with your company?
The ‘Compare Providers’ tool on My Aged Care is also a reliable way to analyse providers and their fees to ensure home care package funds will be used to their fullest extent.
The CareSide Support and Assistance
Navigating the Complexities of Level 4 Care
The CareSide team understands how challenging it can be to navigate the complex care needs of a Level 4 home care package. We can help you put together a care plan based on the aged care services you need, including personal care, nursing care, and respite care that allows the primary caregiver in your situation to take a break and care for themselves.
We also have numerous free resources on our website, including e-books on home care and pricing guides to help you make the best decision for your unique situation. If you still need help or are confused about level 4 home care packages, contact us today on our website or call us at 1300 85 40 80.