Caring for yourself independently gets more difficult as you get older, and for many elderly Australians, a Home Care Package will enable you to age comfortably at home. Home Care funding is consumer-directed, which means you can choose the provider you want and the care you need to continue a vibrant, independent life in your home. The different levels and options available enable you to choose the exact services that are best for you.
Your eligibility will be determined through an assessment by a qualified healthcare provider, and you can sign up for an assessment through My Aged Care. If your initial assessment indicates that a Home Care Package will be the best fit for you, an Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT) will come to your home to determine which level of service you need. The ACAT team will approve you for one of four different levels of care, depending on how much help you need for independent living.
Home Care is for people who need more complex or ongoing support than is available through the Commonwealth Home Support Programme. If you need more than a few discrete or occasional services, then Home Care is likely right for you.
You’ll be approved for a specific level of service, depending on how much support you need to keep living independently. Each home care service level includes a set amount of government funding, which will be paid directly to the provider(s) you choose.
You may also be asked to contribute to the cost of your Home Care Package yourself, depending on your income. Some providers will ask you to pay a basic daily fee, which is a percentage of your basic age pension. You may also need to pay an income-tested care fee if your income is high enough. You can estimate your total contribution and fees here.
You can allocate the funds in your package however you choose, and different providers charge differently for the same services. Shopping different providers will help you get more comprehensive services for the same Home Care level.
Each level of Home Care Package can include a variety of services, and you can choose how you want to spend the money, based on your specific care needs.
Most service levels will include some nursing care from a skilled provider who visits your home regularly. A nurse can help you manage medications, provide skin and wound care, or provide ongoing care for a chronic condition like vision degeneration or diabetes. You can also get visits from a specialist provider such as a podiatrist or an occupational therapist. Or you may need support for health conditions such as dementia and memory loss. All of these healthcare services are included in your Home Care Package.
If your motor skills are declining, you can get help with personal care and hygiene. Assistance with tasks like showering and personal grooming can be part of your package. You can also get help with eating, including meal preparation and using eating utensils.
Many seniors have family members who help with personal care before they receive their Home Care Package. Even if your child or relative wants to continue providing personal care and companionship to you, they’ll need a break sometimes — and your funding can be used for respite care. In respite care, a temporary caregiver will replace your usual companion for a short time so they can go on vacation or have more time to take care of other needs. And if you need extensive, continual care that your family isn’t able to provide, full-time live-in care can also be included, giving you all the benefits of residential care in the convenience of your own home.
Your home environment is important to your comfort and safety, and your funding can assist with this as well. Basic chores and home maintenance, such as cleaning and gardening, can all be funded by your Home Care Package. You can also use the subsidy for upgrades and modifications to your home if they’re necessary to keep it safe and accessible (such as adding ramps if you need a wheelchair). You can even purchase accessibility equipment such as a shower chair.
Finally, your Home Care Package can include funding for services that help you stay active and involved in your community. If you’re not able to drive, then your package can pay for transport, especially transport to essential activities like GP visits. You can pay for social or community activities, such as community classes or a gym membership. You can also get a variety of services with companion care, in which one carer comes regularly to your home to help with errands, transportation, social activities, and light housework.
A Level 3 package provides intermediate-level care. It’s for a person who needs ongoing support and help, but whose needs are less complex than someone who needs Level 4 care.
Here’s a sample of the types of services that a Level 3 package could fund:
Although you have choices when selecting the services you need and the provider you prefer, there are some services that don’t qualify for funding from your Home Care Package. Generally, anything that you would normally purchase out of your income doesn’t qualify for funding. So your grocery purchases aren’t included (but special food purchases for enteral feeding requirements are included). Paying your mortgage or rent doesn’t qualify (but home modifications that are necessary for accessibility likely do). Entertainment activities such as club memberships or tickets to events aren’t eligible for funding, but activities that help you stay connected in your community may be. Holiday trips are excluded, but a health-related retreat could be included. Finally, any fees or charges that are already funded by the Australian Government (such as services covered by the Medicare Benefits Schedule) aren’t covered by your Home Care funding.
Ready to get started? Contact The CareSide to find the right service package for your Home Care funds.
Caring for our elderly parents shouldn't be a burden or responsibility to undertake alone. Ultimately, caring for our elderly parents means making sure they are safe and happy.