Private Home Care
Making Them Work For You
What is Private Home Care?
For many elderly Australians, government subsidies from a Home Care Package or the Commonwealth Home Support Programme provide all the healthcare support you need as you age, but private home care is an option for those with other needs.
But for others, additional care is necessary.
Home Care Package subsidies enable you to avoid the life changes and transitions involved in moving to a nursing home and continue to live at home, following your own schedule and enjoying full independence as you age.
Perhaps you don’t qualify for subsidies because of your income or health needs, but you still want additional help at home. Perhaps you’re eligible for a subsidy, but there’s a waiting period for the package you’ve been approved for.
In cases like this, you might choose to purchase private home care instead of, or in addition to, government-funded care.
Private in-home care is home health support that you pay for privately, out of your own income. You can choose any private home care provider you like, from a government-approved provider to a private charity or an uncertified individual provider. You can choose exactly what services you want, with no need for approval and no waiting period.
However, you have to pay the full cost of the home caring service yourself.
What is the Difference between Private and Government-Funded Home Care?
The main difference between private and government-funded home care is how you pay. With a private home care service, you’ll pay the full cost of the services out of your own income. With subsidised care, you’ll use government funding to pay for services that you’re eligible for.
Usually you’ll also pay some fees, but these are adjusted to be affordable. Depending on your income and needs, you might be able to receive subsidised care at no cost to you.
However, government funding does come with some inconvenience. With government-funded care, you have toapply for an eligibility assessment, and an assessment team will determine youre ligibility for specific types of care and services.
Subsidised packages also usually have a waiting period, which could be as long as a year or more.
With private care, you don’t have any of those inconveniences.
You can decide exactly what kinds of services you need, with no need for approval from anyone. You can choose any caregiver or provider you like, with no limitations on your choices. And you can begin care immediately, as soon as an appointment is available.
Both types of care allow you to choose your provider, and you always have the right to change providers if you aren’t happy with your service.
Why Would You Use Private Home Health Care?
There are many reasons why you might want to use private home health care. You may not be eligible for a subsidy, or you might be waiting for your package to be available.
Even if you’re currently receiving subsidised care, you might want additional services that aren’t eligible in your funding package. In this case, you can use private care to “top off” your funded services and meet all your needs.
Finally, you might choose private care because you only need short-term care.
An assessment application and waiting period may not be feasible when your needs are only short term, and private care can fill in the gap.
For example, if you normally receive most of the care you need from a loved one or relative, then you can hire a carer for a day or two. Private care can provide respite care to enable your loved one to go on vacation or take care of other needs.
What is the Average Cost of Private Home Health Care?
The cost of private home health care depends on the types of services you need and the qualifications of the carer. If you only need minimal help around your home, such as housecleaning or meal preparation, home care from a private personal carer could be as affordable as $30/hour for a few hours a week.
If you have more complex needs requiring private nursing care, you’ll need a carer with healthcare certifications or special skills. This can raise your cost to as high as $200/hour or more for a Registered Nurse on holidays or weekends.
In-home nursing care doesn’t always require a registered nurse, however. Most healthcare needs can be met by a Nursing Assistant or qualified home Caregiver, which average around $65/hour. The CareSide Caregivers are fully trained and start at just $54/hour.
How Can I Pay for Private Home Care?
Even if you aren’t eligible for government subsidies, you may be able to get help paying for private care. If you have private insurance, it’s likely that home health care costs are covered.
Private insurance often includes a hospital cover policy that will cover at least part of the cost of hospital substitute services or home rehabilitation services. These include home nursing care such as occupational therapy and wound care, and they could include coverage for household services like cooking and cleaning as well.
If you have private insurance, talk with your insurance provider to find out what types of services are covered in your plan.
Who is Eligible?
There are no eligibility requirements for receiving private home health care. You can purchase any service you choose, with no need to be assessed or qualify.
Although elderly people often use private home health care, there’s no minimum age. Private care is also for people who have disabilities, people who need temporary care after an operation or illness, and people of any age who have chronic conditions such as dementia or mobility challenges.
There are also no restrictions on the kind of care you receive. You can hire a private carer for companionship and extra help with household tasks, or you can hire full-time live-in care. With a private carer, you can receive any type of help you need, whether it’s pet care, transportation, or nursing care.
When Can I Receive Private Home Care?
There are no waiting lists for private home care, so you can begin receiving care as soon as the provider you choose has an appointment available.
Since you’re paying for the services, only you decide what you need and when you want to receive it. You don’t need to be approved for a specific level of care, and you can schedule an appointment as soon as it’s convenient.
Finding a Private Home Care Provider
Finding the right private home provider for you isn’t a complicated process. Since you’re responsible for the full cost of private care, it’s a good idea to start by setting a budget and then comparing providers and prices to make sure you can afford the care you need.
Where to look
For government-subsidised care, you need to make sure that the provider you choose is on the list of approved providers. But with private home care, there are no approved providers. This means there are many different places you can look for care, and there are fewer systems in place to help you make sure a provider is qualified.
Many of the government-approved providers also offer private care, so you can use those lists to find a private care provider as well. The Aged Care Guide and Aged Care Online both list home care providers who are approved for government funding.
There are also sites where you can search for private home care providers, both individual carers and agencies. Mable and Home Care Heroes are two websites where you can search for private care providers.
Differences between providers
There are a lot of options for private home care, but you can narrow down your choices by identifying what type of provider you want for your care.
First, with private care, you can choose to work with an agency or a private individual.
If you only need one type of care service, such as a companion to come help with meal preparation once a week, then an individual provider could be less expensive. However, if you need several different types of carers, or more complicated services, then it might be simpler for you to arrange all your carers through a home care agency.
Care agencies can be for-profit or charitable. Both of these will be regulated by your state or territory, but they won’t have to follow the national Aged Care Quality Standards. Organisations that aren’t recognized as government providers may not meet the same standard of care that recognised providers follow.
Who to ask for help
If you need help finding the right care provider, your first resource is your doctor. They are familiar with your health and care needs, and they will also be familiar with care providers in your area. Your GP should be able to recommend several care providers that you can choose from.
If you need more help, an agency like My Care Path can help you navigate the options for home health care.
Pitfalls when choosing a private home care provider
No matter how much effort you put into finding the right provider, there are still pitfalls you should be aware of.
One of the biggest pitfalls is cost: since you’re paying from your income, you should make sure you’re getting the best value you can for your care. Many providers charge administrative and management fees that may be unnecessary for you, especially if your care needs are relatively simple. Look for a provider who either lets you self-manage your care or includes case management for no additional fees.
Another danger is that you won’t receive quality care. Private providers are not regulated by the Australian Government, so they might not follow the quality care standards that public providers do. They might also use carers with insufficient training.
One way to avoid this pitfall is to choose a government-approved provider for your private care. By choosing an approved provider, you can be sure you’re receiving the same level of care. This will also make the transition easier if you become eligible for subsidy funding in the future.
If you choose an unregulated private provider, make sure they provide sufficient training for carers, perform background checks, and ensure that you have the same carer every time.
Another pitfall is vague service agreements. Public providers are required to give you a detailed written Care Plan, which describes the care you’ll receive, outlines the costs, and includes how often you’ll receive specific services.
A private provider should give you a similar document that details all of your care. Ideally, your care plan should also be reviewed by a healthcare professional such as a Registered Nurse who assesses your health needs, so you can be confident that the services you choose will meet all of your needs.
Home health care can be complex to manage, and private providers may not offer care management. If you don’t have the time or capacity to schedule appointments with multiple carers, then you might need to hire a Care Manager to help. This can add significantly to your costs unless you purchase from a provider who includes a Care Manager in their fees.
Finally, when you’re choosing a private provider, make sure they carry proper insurance and worker’s compensation for carers and that they follow Australian tax law. The company should carry insurance and worker’s compensation so that you are not liable for any accidents that occur in your home. Your provider should also follow tax laws and include the GST in the cost of services.
Benefits of Private Elderly Care at Home
Private elderly care at home can be your best option for a variety of reasons. Even though you have to pay the full cost, it can be more cost effective than subsidised care, since some funded providers charge additional fees. (The CareSide has no additional fees for joining, exiting, consultation, or case management, but many providers do.)
Privacy, autonomy and independence
Private home care offers you full autonomy and independence. With no wait times and no eligibility requirements, you can choose exactly the care you want. You can obtain the care you need that will enable you to live independently and comfortably, without any delays.
Individualised care plans
Since there are no guidelines or eligibility in a private home health care plan, you can design your care to meet your needs. This means you can choose exactly the services you need, without paying for any services you don’t need.
Private care enables you to build a completely individualised care plan. Funded plans often start with a list of the standard services for your situation, and you can sometimes remove or add services as needed. But with a private plan, the starting point is your individual needs, not a pre-designed package of standardised care.
Private care will also allow you to add or remove services as needed. Some subsidised providers have minimum service requirements, exit fees, or other rules that make it difficult for you to adjust your care if your needs change. Private care is often more flexible.
If you need to pay privately for home health care, then getting the best value for your money is an important factor in your decision. The simplest way to measure value is by the number of hours of care you can receive for the same price. Because of our low administrative costs, The CareSide provides significantly more hours for the same cost than most agencies.