A Guide to Home Care Packages

Australians cherish their independence with most preferring to live comfortably in their own homes for as long as possible. Sometimes however, a helping hand is needed to make daily life a little safer and more manageable. Home Care Packages are a government subsidy designed to bridge that gap.

Who Can Benefit?

To be eligible for a Home Care Package, you must be at least 65 years old (or 50 for Indigenous Australians). More importantly, you require a higher level of daily assistance than the Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP) provides.

Compared to the basic housekeeping and meal preparation offered by the CHSP, a higher level of need requires more comprehensive support. This can include assistance with personal care tasks like showering, dressing and medication management.

You might also need more frequent help with domestic chores or specialised meal preparation. In some cases, a higher need may involve nursing care, increased social support for companionship or emotional wellbeing, memory assistance for those with cognitive decline or regular transportation for appointments and errands.

Essentially, a higher level of need ensures you receive the care necessary to manage your health, safety and overall wellbeing at home. An Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT) will assess your needs to determine if you qualify.

Levels of Support

There are four levels of Home Care Packages, each offering a customised range of services:

Level 1: Low Needs: Focuses on domestic assistance like housekeeping, meal prep or even social outings to combat loneliness.

Level 2: Moderate Needs: Provides transportation to appointments and errands, social support and shopping assistance.

Level 3: Intermediate Needs: Offers personal care like showering, dressing, and toileting assistance, along with medication management and continence support.

Level 4: High Needs: Provides extensive support with personal care, nursing care, continence management and memory assistance for those with dementia or other cognitive impairments.

Selecting Your Home Care Provider

Unlike traditional aged care facilities, Home Care Packages are “consumer-led.” This means you get to choose your preferred service provider, ensuring the care aligns with your preferences and cultural background. My Aged Care, a government resource, offers a provider comparison tool and valuable guidance for making this crucial selection.

Home Care Packages are subsidised by the government, but there are some additional costs to consider. Daily care fees vary by package level, ranging from $10.50 to $11.70. Part-pensioners and self-funded retirees may also have an income-tested care fee, though there are annual and lifetime caps in place. Finally, service providers may charge additional fees for managing and coordinating your care services, so be sure to review their pricing schedule carefully.

Getting Started

My Aged Care is your one-stop shop for starting the Home Care Package journey. Here’s a breakdown of the process:

  1. Eligibility Check: Use their online tool to see if you meet the basic requirements.
  2. ACAT Assessment: Contact My Aged Care to arrange an assessment with a qualified team to determine your specific needs and suitable level of care.
  3. Income Assessment: Services Australia/Centrelink will assess your finances to determine eligibility for the income-tested care fee.
  4. Package Allocation: Once approved, your package will be allocated based on priority and your assessed needs. Wait times can vary.
  5. Choosing a Provider: Utilise My Aged Care’s resources or seek recommendations to find a provider that aligns with your needs and preferences.

Making Your Package Work for You

To ensure your Home Care Package continues to meet your needs, schedule regular reviews with both your provider and ACAT. This allows adjustments to be made as your situation evolves. Remember, any unspent funds from your annual budget roll over to the next year. Work with your provider to make the most of these resources. Finally, open communication is key. Don’t hesitate to discuss any concerns or questions you may have regarding your care plan or how services are delivered.

Maintaining Healthy Independence 

Home Care Packages allow you to maintain your independence at home for as long as possible. By understanding the program, navigating the process and choosing the right care plan, you can continue living a fulfilling life in the comfort of your own home. Don’t hesitate to seek guidance from My Aged Care or trusted advisors to ensure you make well-informed decisions about your wellbeing. We’re always happy to help you navigate the home care system. Book an appointment with one of our home care managers to discuss your options and learn more.