What Is the Difference Between CHSP and Home Care Packages?

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What is the Difference Between CHSP and HCP?

For many elderly Australians, aging independently at home is a priority. But changes in your health, mobility, or capabilities could mean you need support to achieve that goal. Fortunately, you have options. In Australia, there are two aged care schemes that provide support for elderly Australians living at home: the Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP) and Home Care Packages (HCP).

Both of these are programs that provide Government funding for support services you might need to stay in your home. However, there are important differences between the two schemes, and which one is right for you depends on the amount of services you need.

What types of services can I receive with CHSP and HCP?

The types of services you can receive through CHSP and HCP are very similar. Both fund in-home services that enable you to live independently. The main difference is in the level of care you can receive with each program.

The Commonwealth Home Support Programme is intended for entry-level support for people who have been living independently. If you’re mostly able to care for yourself, but you’ve recently noticed changes in your ability to perform daily life activities, then it’s likely you can qualify for CHSP support.

For example, perhaps you are mobile and enjoy walking to the grocery store, but your eyesight has been changing, and it’s getting harder for you to read labels and prices in order to do your shopping. You are still able to plan and prepare meals, but you need support with buying food. CHSP funds could help pay for a shopping assistant to accompany you to the store and help you shop.

Home Care Packages are for people who need more complex or extensive care. If you’ve recently been diagnosed with a medical condition that affects your ability to live independently, or if you’ve had a significant change in your mobility or ability to care for yourself, then you might qualify for a Home Care Package. You could also qualify for these funds if you’re already receiving CHSP funding and your needs have become more complex over time.

There are four levels of Home Care Packages, and each provides a different amount of funding. All of them can include the same types of services – the only difference is the total amount of funding and care services you can receive.

Some examples of the services you can receive through either CHSP or HCP include the following:

  • Meal preparation
  • Personal care
  • Nursing and medical support
  • Occupational therapy
  • Housecleaning
  • Gardening
  • Home maintenance
  • Assistive technology
  • Transportation services

In addition, CHSP funding also can provide Assistance with Care and Housing for people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.

Generally, with CHSP you can only receive one or two types of services, and you’ll have to choose from a set menu of services. Because it’s intended for entry-level support, the CHSP is more restrictive in the types of care that each provider can offer. However, you can choose several different providers to offer your care. You can also receive more intensive short-term care for a temporary period, such as after a hospitalisation.

The type of care you can receive with a Home Care Package is more broad and less specific, and each provider can offer a wider range of services. However, your HCP has to be administered by a single provider, so you’ll need to choose one approved provider who will manage all of your care. Your provider will work with you to create an individualised care plan that meets all of your needs. A Home Care Package is intended for long-term care to meet ongoing needs.

How do I apply for CHSP and HCP?

The first step of applying for support with either program is the same. Both are managed through My Aged Care, and for either one, you’ll begin by applying for an assessment.

Based on the information you provide about your needs, a determination will be made about which type of assessment you need. If your needs are likely to be met by CHSP-level funding, then you’ll be contacted by an assessor from the Regional Assessment Service (RAS), which performs entry-level assessments for CHSP eligibility. If you need higher-level care, you’ll be contacted by an Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT), which performs assessments for Home Care Packages. The ACAT will determine which level of Home Care Package you’re eligible for.

For both types of assessment, an assessor will come to your home to meet with you face-to-face. You’ll talk with them about your health and your need for support, and they’ll determine what level of support you qualify for. During a RAS assessment for CHSP services, you’ll find out immediately whether you qualify, and you can also begin care immediately, as soon as you can schedule services with an approved provider. Your assessor will tell you during your in-person assessment which services you can receive, and you can contact a provider to schedule services right away.

If you receive an ACAT assessment for a Home Care Package, you won’t find out about your eligibility immediately. The assessor will meet with a team to evaluate your needs and determine which Home Care Package level will best meet your needs. You’ll receive a letter telling you what level HCP you qualify for.

However, you probably won’t be able to receive services immediately; most Home Care Packages have a waiting period. You’ll be placed on the national priority list depending on the severity of your needs and the date of your eligibility, and your letter will give you an estimate of how long you’ll wait before receiving your package. If you’re assigned a higher level package, then you may be able to use an interim lower-level package or CHSP funds in the meantime until your assigned package becomes available. You may also self manage home care packages– click the preceding link for more info.

How much funding do I get with CHSP and HCP?

With the Commonwealth Home Support Programme, you qualify for services, and the provider receives a Government subsidy that helps make those services less expensive for you. However, the subsidy does not cover the entire cost of care. Each type of service receives a set subsidy, and you pay the rest of the hourly fee for care. 

The total cost for the service is determined by your provider, so it’s worth it to choose a cost-effective provider. The subsidy helps make your cost more affordable. 

Although you’ll usually have to pay for CHSP services, you’ll only pay an hourly fee for the services you receive. There are never any daily fees, entrance fees, exit fees, or contracts. You can increase or reduce your services at any time.

In addition, if you are unable to contribute financially because of your income, you may be able to receive services for free. Each provider sets its own policies regarding financial need and ability to pay. You also are able to negotiate your fees with providers.

With a Home Care Package, instead of qualifying for specific services, you qualify for funding. Your package level provides you a specific amount of money which you can spend on any services you choose, as long as they’re an approved type of service and are included in your care plan.

The main limitation is that you have to receive all your care services through a single approved provider, who manages your Home Care Package and coordinates your care. Different providers charge different administrative costs, so choosing a cost-effective provider means you can receive more hours of care for the same level of funding.

With a Home Care Package, it’s possible for you to pay nothing out-of-pocket. However, if your income is higher, then you may be required to make an income-tested contribution. In addition, some providers charge daily fees, which could come out of your package funding or out of your own income. 

How will I receive services through CHSP or HCP?

If you’re eligible for CHSP services, then you’ll choose a provider for each service you receive. Normally, you’ll only receive one or two types of services, but you can receive care from different providers. After your eligibility is approved, you can contact local providers directly and schedule the care you need.

If you’re eligible for a Home Care Package, then you’ll begin care by choosing a provider and meeting with them to create your Care Plan. Your Care Plan will explain exactly what care you need and how often you’ll receive services. Your provider is responsible for managing the funds and for paying the carers who come to your home. You will begin scheduling care appointments after your package level becomes available.

With both programs, you’ll need to find an approved provider who can offer Government-funded care.

Can I combine CHSP and HCP services?

Normally, CHSP and HCP are two separate services, and you will use either one or the other (not both). But if you’ve been approved for a higher-level Home Care Package with a long waiting period, then you may be able to use both a lower-level Home Care Package combined with Commonwealth Home Support Programme subsidies to receive care while you’re waiting for your approved package to become available. 

You may also be able to use CHSP services temporarily if you’re receiving care through a HCP and you have additional short-term needs. For example, if you are approved for a Level 2 Home Care Package and you’ve been using all of your budget for ongoing care, but an unexpected illness means you temporarily need a higher level of care, you may be able to access CHSP funds to subsidise short-term care.

Get started with Home Care

The CareSide is approved to provide both Commonwealth Home Support Programme services and Home Care Packages. We offer the best value for home care, giving you more hours of care no matter what type of funding you’re eligible for. Contact us to learn more about how we can provide the care support you need.

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