For those who don’t understand the funding they have access to for home care, it’s vital to get in the know.
Many Australians are unaware of the support the government offers and the funding programmes that exist to ensure they can remain living in the homes and communities they love, connected to the friends, family and life they love. This article provides an overview of the main types of government funding available and how they are accessed.
Essentially, the Australian government offers two main forms of funding to help older Australians (people over 65) remain living in their homes safely and happily for as long as possible. These are
- Commonwealth Home Support Programme
- Home Care Packages.
1. Commonwealth Home Support Programme
Commonwealth Home Support Programme is an entry- level form of support providing services for older people who need assistance to keep living independently at home and in their community.
If someone is generally able to manage but just needs a little help with daily tasks to continue living at home, Commonwealth Home Support Programme services may be right for them. These services might also be suitable if you’ve had a setback and need support for just a short period of time to help get back on your feet.
The Commonwealth Home Support Programme is not income or means tested. The government subsidises approved providers to deliver a set menu of services that you can choose from. The individual is required to make a financial contribution of $5 to $10 for each hour of help that comes into the home. Services will be specified in a care plan and are generally limited to a few hours a week.
Typically, people will transition from the Commonwealth Home Support Programme to Home Care Packages their needs increase.
The types of services you can access include
- Transport to appointments and activities
- Domestic help (e.g. house cleaning, washing clothes)
- Personal care (e.g. help with showering or dressing)
- Home maintenance and modifications (e.g. changing light bulbs, getting a grab rail installed)
- Aids and equipment (e.g. bath seat, raised toilet seat, mobility aids)
- Meals and food preparation Managing medication
- Some allied health (e.g. podiatry, physiotherapy, occupational therapy)
- Social support (e.g. accompanied activities, group excursions)
- Respite (care for you while your carer takes a break).
2. Home Care Packages
Home Care Packages provide funding for older Australians with greater care needs to live independently in their own homes. These offer a more managed and holistic service than the Commonwealth Home Support Programme with ongoing oversight from a skilled professional to case manage services. There are four levels of home care packages and funding to help meet the different levels of care needs.
Once you’ve been assigned a Home Care Package, you choose which Government Approved Provider you’d like to deliver your care and support. The provider will work with you to design a tailored Care Plan that suits your needs and goals.
How is this funded?
The funding for your Home Care Package is paid directly by the government to the provider you choose. You remain in control though, and each month they will send you a statement to show how much has been spent and on what services. Depending on who you choose to provide your care, you can be asked to contribute a ‘basic daily fee’ toward the cost of your care. This is currently set at $10.32 per day. It is at the discretion of your provider to charge this and many do not. Five Good Friends do not charge this fee.
Types of services you can access under Home Care Packages include:
- Personal services – assistance with personal activities such as bathing, showering, toileting, dressing and undressing, mobility and communication.
- Nutrition, hydration, meal preparation and diet – assistance with preparing meals, including special diets for health, religious, cultural or other reasons; assistance with using eating utensils and assistance with feeding.
- Transport and personal assistance –assistance with shopping, visiting health practitioners and attending social activities.
- Management of skin integrity – assistance with bandages, dressings and skin emollients.
- Mobility and dexterity –providing crutches, quadruped walkers, walking frames, walking sticks, mechanical devices for lifting, bed rails, slide sheets, sheepskins, tri-pillows, pressure-relieving mattresses and assistance with the use of these aids.
- Nursing, allied health and other clinical services – speech therapy, podiatry, occupational or physiotherapy services, hearing and vision services. Levels 1 and 2 Home Care Packages are not intended to provide comprehensive clinical or health services. Levels 3 and 4 Home Care Packages have a greater emphasis on delivering complex care in the home, including more clinical care where needed.
A Home Care Package may also be used to support the use of:
- Telehealth: video conferencing and digital technology (including remote monitoring) to increase access to timely and appropriate care.
- Assistive technology: such as aids and equipment (particularly those that assist a person to perform daily living tasks), as well as devices that assist mobility, communication and personal safety.
- Aids and equipment: some aids and equipment that are directly associated with your care needs can be purchased using funds from your package budget.
How do I know if I am eligible for the
Commonwealth Home Support Programme service or a Home Care Package? To access either the Commonwealth Home Support Programme or Home Care Packages requires a an assessment.
The assessment is booked through My Aged Care, the government’s gateway to all aged and home care services. Your GP or health professional can contact My Aged Care on your behalf and arrange an assessment or you can contact My Aged Care yourself on 1800 200 422. Trusted family, friends and carers can arrange an assessment on behalf of a loved one as well.
The initial discussion with My Aged Care will take about 10 minutes and you will need your Medicare card. During the discussion the person you talk to will ask your permission to create a client record.
This will become a secure central location where all your information regarding home care is stored; you’ll be given login details and can access your information by calling My Aged Care or through the internet.
You’ll also be asked a series of questions to determine if the Commonwealth Home Support Programme or a Home Care Package is the most suitable option.
After registering with My Aged Care, you’ll be contacted by the appropriate assessment team to set a time for the assessment, which will usually be in your home.
Depending on which service you’re suited to and where you live, it can take up to 12 weeks to have your assessment. In urgent situations, an assessment can be organised in 48 hours.
The Commonwealth Home Support Programme uses Regional Assessment Service (RAS) assessors. Home Care Packages use an Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT, or ACAS in Victoria). Both RAS and ACAT assessors are skilled people with experience ranging from social support to allied health.
- Contact My Aged Care on 1800 200 422 and request an assessment. Your GP, health professional, family member or carer can do this as well.
- Have your Medicare card and GP details ready and be prepared to answer a few questions that will determine if the Commonwealth Home Support Programme or Home Care Packages are most suitable. Agree a time for an assessor to meet with you.
- Meet with a skilled assessor and answer their questions. This will take up to 90 minutes. You can have a trusted loved one, partner or carer with you to help you.
- Receive a letter from My Aged Care advising of your approval of a Commonwealth Home Support Programme or Home Care Package.
- If ACAT assessed and approved for a Home Care Package, you’ll receive continued correspondence from My Aged Care to advise where you are in the national wait list.
- When you reach the top of the national wait list, My Aged Care will send you a letter with your referral code and Home Care Package level so you can start organising your services. You then have 56 days to activate your services by choosing and engaging an approved provider of Home Care Packages.
For more information, call the Five Good Friends and Apia Care Advice line on 1300 50 27 42.