Home Care Packages

Making Them Work For You

What Is A Home Care Package?

For many elderly Australians, a Home Care Package is the key to being able to age at home, in the comfort of a familiar environment.

Since 2017, Home Care Packages have been consumer-directed, which means you can choose the services and providers that work best for you.

Home Care Package subsidies enable you to avoid the life changes and transitions involved in moving to an ursing home and continue to live at home, following your own schedule andenjoying full in dependence as you age.

How Much Is It Worth?

The value of your Home Care Package depends on your eligibility level.

There are four levels, and each includes a specific amount of government-subsidised funding.

The subsidy funding, combined with your own income-based contributions, add up to the total amount you can spend with a provider of your choosing for the services you need.

The subsidy amounts are adjusted annually. Here are the funding amounts for each level in 2020:

Home Care Package level
Subsidy amount (rounded)
Level 1
9000$
Level 2
15,750$
Level 3
34,500$
Level 4
52,250$

The Ultimate Guide To Home Care Packages

If you would like comprehensive reference information on how to get more from your Home Care Package, then our Ultimate Guide To Home Care Packages has all of the information that you need.

As well as including more detailed information on topics discussed on this web page, the guide also includes information on:

  • Whether to Self-Manage or not;
  • Services and equipment allowed to be included in a Home Care Package;
  • Managing Home Care Package Services;
  • The requirements of the Home Care Agreement;
  • Dispute resolution; and
  • Changing providers.
Get The Ultimate Guide To Home Care Packages.
Click Here To Get It Free Now

What Fees Are Involved?

Most people will need to pay a fee out of their own income, in addition to the amount paid by the subsidy.

If you are a self-funded retiree or if you receive a part-pension, then you’ll need to pay an income tested fee. This is based on your income and can’t be waived.

Some providers also charge a daily care fee, but this is optional and can be waived by the provider. The CareSide always waives the daily care fee.

What Supplements Are available?

If you need particular types of special care, you may qualify for funding supplements which are added to your existing subsidy.

For example, if you live in a rural or remote area, you may qualify for a viability supplement due to the higher cost of care. If you are low-income, you may be able to receive a hardship supplement to cover your fees.

Depending on your health needs, you could also qualify for a dementia and cognition supplement, an oxygen supplement, or an enteral feeding supplement.

Veterans with a mental health condition also qualify for an 11.5% supplement.

Who Is Eligible?

Home Care Packages are for both elderly Australians and younger individuals who need home health care due to special health needs.

You are eligible if you are 65 or older, or 50 years or older if you’re Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.

You could also be eligible if you’re younger than that but in need of home health care for complex issues such as dementia or a disability.

Finally, you could be eligible if your health assessment indicates you need more complex or extensive care than is available through other programs, such as the Commonwealth Health Support Programme.

When Can I Receive It?

There is usually a waiting time for a Home Care Package. After your eligibility is approved, your wait time will start from the date on your approval letter.

Your letter will alsoinclude your priority level, which is determined by the assessor based on howurgently you need care. ​As of 31 May 2019, the average wait time for a Level 1 package is 3-6months, and the average wait time for all other packages is 12+ months.

However, you can opt to receive an interim package, which provides you a lower level of subsidy while you stay on the waiting list for your approved level.

The wait time for a Level 1 interim package is 3-6 months, and you can use that while you wait for yourhigher level package to become available.

The CareSide has no minimum weekly or monthly usage, so you can begin using services with an interim package and then increase services when you are awarded your full Home CarePackage.

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The Ultimate Guide To Home Care Packages

If you would like comprehensive reference information on how to get more from your Home Care Package, then our Ultimate Guide To Home Care Packages has all of the information that you need.

As well as including more detailed information on topics discussed on this web page, the guide also includes information on:

  • Whether to Self-Manage or not;
  • Services and equipment allowed to be included in a Home Care Package;
  • Managing Home Care Package Services;
  • The requirements of the Home Care Agreement;
  • Dispute resolution; and
  • Changing providers.
Get The Ultimate Guide To Home Care Packages.
Click Here To Get It Free Now

How Can I Get A Home Care Package?

To receive your Home Care Package, you’ll need to get an eligibility assessment. This will tell you whether you’re eligible for home care and what level package you qualify for.

The first step in finding out whether you’re eligible is scheduling your appointment with an Aged Care Assessment Team.
You can do this either through a referral from your GP by ​applying through the government website, or if you are in hospital, a social worker will organise it for you.

What is an ACAT?

An Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT) consists of at least two healthcare professionals, including a nurse and one additional professional.

The second person could bean occupational therapist, a mental health professional, or someone with another specialty.

Usually, just one member of the team will come to your home to performthe assessment.

The ACAT Process

Getting an ACAT is a simple and straightforward process. You can ask your GP for a referral, but you can also apply yourself by phone (​1800 200 422) ​or ​online​.

Your application only takes about ten minutes, and after you submit it, an assessor will contact you within three weeks to schedule your assessment.

At the time of your eligibility assessment, the ACAT will come to your home to do a comprehensive evaluation of everything you need to continue living independently.

When the ACAT arrives, you’llneed your Medicare card plus one other form of ID, referrals from your doctor if you have any, contact information for your GP and any other healthcare professionals you think the ACAT should talk with, and information about the health care you’re currently receiving.

You can also have a friendor relative come to your home to be with you during the assessment if you choose.

During your assessment, you’ll provide the ACAT information about your health needs. The assessor will ask you to fill out some more detailed forms, and they’ll use a series of non-invasive tests and questions to evaluate your physical, mental, and psychological needs.

They’ll talk with you about what your ideal support would look like, and by the end of your assessment, you’ll have a written care plan detailing the support you need.

After your assessment, all the professionals assigned to your Aged Care Assessment Team will review your information and make a recommendation to the decision-maker.

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Being Assigned a Home Care Package

About two weeks after your ACAT visit, you’ll receive your eligibility letter telling you the results of your assessment. Your letter includes four things:

  • Your assessment decision
  • The package level you’re approved for and your priority level
  • An explanation of the reasons for the decision; and
  • A copy of your written care plan

Your letter also contains contact information for your Aged CareAssessment Team.

If you want to appeal your decision, contacting them is the first step. If you disagree with your eligibility decision, you can use the information in your letter to appeal, especially if any of the information in the explanation section is inaccurate.

When you can begin receiving care depends on two things: the date of your approval letter and your priority level.

Your wait time begins from the date of your letter, and how long you’ll need to wait depends on your priority level, as well as the package level you’ve been assigned. Wait time can vary from a few months to over a year.

When you have three months to go till your care begins, you’ll receive a second letter, notifying you of the date that your package will begin. Three months later, you’ll get one more letter to begin your care. This letter will include your referral code, which is the only thing you’ll need to access services.

If you don’t begin services within 56 days after getting your referral code, your package will expire.

Therefore, it’s importantto begin researching providers and choosing the ones you want to use no laterthan the time of your three-month letter. It can take some time to find the right provider for all the services you need, and you can begin that process assoon as you know your eligibility.

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Where To Look For A Provider

Your Home Care Package uses a philosophy of consumer-driven care, which means you can choose any provider you want for your approved services.

This means you can find a provider who’s a good fit for you, but it also means that finding an appropriate provider is your responsibility.

You can choose your own provider, but in order to use your subsidy funds, you have to choose an approved provider.

Approved providers must meetthe care standards defined by the ​Aged Care Quality and Safety Act​. An approved provider will meet a minimum standard of care, which includes helping you decide what care you need and managing your payments.

You can search for an approved provider directly through the government website at ​My Aged Care​. You can use consumer sites with different search and filter functions, such as Aged Care Guide​ and ​Aged CareOnline​.

Differences Between Providers

What do you need to consider when choosing a provider?

The choices can be overwhelming, so start with the basics: you’ll need a provider in your area who offers the type of service you need.

Consider the provider’s available hours and sample packages, and compare this to your ACAT written care plan. Find several providers who can meet your basic needs, and create a short list.

The wait time for a Level 1 interim package is 3-6 months, and you can use that while you wait for yourhigher level package to become available.

Once you’ve narrowed down the possibilities, evaluate the providers by more specific criteria.

Do you need a care provider who speaks another language, or would you like one who understands your culture? Do you want a provider who’s familiar with gay and lesbian families, or a provider associated with a particular religious affiliation? Do you want the same carer each time? Do you want the carer to arrive at a specific time, or is a 4 hour window of arrival acceptable?

Considerations like these will help you identify the provider who will be the best fit for you.

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Pitfalls When Choosing a Home Care Provider

Just as you have the right to choose a provider, approved providers have choices in how they structure fees and services. There’s a wide variety of pricing and fees among approved providers, so it’s important to research carefully to make sure the provideryou choose is the right fit for you.

Pricing can vary widely among providers, even when their official pricing structures look comparable.

Many providers charge hidden fees that could increase your costs significantly. These can include entry costs, exit costs, case management, package fees, and other service fees that aren’t in cluded in the standardised price list.

In addition, providers have an option to charge you a daily care fee. This is entirely optional for providers, and many do charge it. The CareSide never charges adaily fee or any hidden fees.

Some providers also have a complicated approval process that determines how you can use your funding, which isn’t necessary. Look for a provider that lets you use your subsidy funds how you choose.

Customer service is another area in which some providers could fall short.

Some providers have a long wait time for scheduling appointments or additional services, and some are difficult to communicate with when you need to change or reschedule a service.

Some only let you have services at a specific time or they will arrive within a four hour window of time, which can make your day difficult to plan. The CareSide always schedules your service for a specific time, not a window.

Many providers use labourhire firms for their staff which means that your carer is always changing and that you cannot get comfortable with them in your home. The CareSide employs all of its carers, and the carer that you are introduced to is the carer that you will keep.

Ask about customer service policies before you choose a provider.

Finally, staffing policies can lead to problems with your provider. Find out about staff training and qualifications for the types of services you’ll be receiving.

Most consumers find it simpler and more pleasant to receive ongoing services from the same professional, or at most two or three regular carers.

Some care companies have high staff turnover, which could mean you have a different, unfamiliar person coming to your house each visit. Ask about frequency of staff turnover before you sign an agreement.

Providers are allowed to charge an exit fee if you transfer providers. They may also have a long termination period, often 4-6 weeks. The CareSide does not charge an exit fee and our termination period is only one week.

Finally, ask about any common extra fees such as accounting fees, entry fees, fees for care management, fees for care and safety assessments and finally care plan change fees. The Careside does not charge any of these fees.

Read More

The Ultimate Guide To Home Care Packages

If you would like comprehensive reference information on how to get more from your Home Care Package, then our Ultimate Guide To Home Care Packages has all of the information that you need.

As well as including more detailed information on topics discussed on this web page, the guide also includes information on:

  • Whether to Self-Manage or not;
  • Services and equipment allowed to be included in a Home Care Package;
  • Managing Home Care Package Services;
  • The requirements of the Home Care Agreement;
  • Dispute resolution; and
  • Changing providers.
Get The Ultimate Guide To Home Care Packages.
Click Here To Get It Free Now