Last year more than 1 million Australians received aged care assistance, only around 220,000 of them resided in an aged care facility. Which means that about 80% of people who receive aged care assistance lived at home – surprised? Let’s look at what getting care at home involves.
What care can you get?
The starting point, if you have basic care needs, is the Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP). The CHSP brings together a number of services including the provision of meals (often through the meals on wheel programme), transport to appointments, respite stays, home maintenance and domestic help. If your care needs are higher a Home Care Package may be better suited to you.
Home Care Packages provide a higher level care and can also assist with domestic help, home modifications and transport. Since 1 July 2015, all Home Care Packages have been delivered on a consumer-directed care basis. This means that the care recipient can control the budget of money the government allocates for their care needs by nominating the services they would like to receive and who they would like to provide those services.
In addition to the government-funded services there are also private care services, which are often used to “top up” a care package or provide support following a stay in hospital or while someone is waiting to receive care. The type of services you can receive and the cost will vary from one provider to another so it is best to contact them directly.
Who assesses my care needs?
To access a Commonwealth Home Support Programme service you will need to contact the government’s My Aged Care contact centre on 1800 200 422. The assessment of your care needs can often be conducted over the phone by asking you questions about your health and safety details of any support services you are currently receiving and looking at support services that could assist you.
In some cases, you may be referred to the Regional Assessment Service or the Aged Care Assessment Team to clarify your care needs and the services that would be most appropriate. If you are wanting to access a Home Care Package your care needs will be assessed by the local Aged Care Assessment Team (commonly known as the ACAT).
The assessment can be carried out in the ACAT offices which are often part of a local hospital or a member of the ACAT Team may come to your house. The ACAT team is made up of a group of health professionals, but you will probably only speak to one or two of them. They will look at your daily activities and ask you about the things you are comfortable doing for yourself and the things you need assistance with.
Their assessment will determine if you are eligible to receive a Home Care Package and may also include approval for respite care or permanent care in an aged care facility. Just because you are approved doesn’t mean you need to use a particular service.
If just means that you can if you wish. Bear in mind too that there can be long waits for some services even if you are approved. Getting care in your own home means you can live where you want to, whether that’s in your family home, a granny flat, a caravan park, a retirement village or maybe an over 55’s community while accessing care and support.
What does it cost?
The cost of a CHSP service will depend on the service and the service provider so it is best to discuss this before you start receiving a service. The amount you need to pay for a Home Care Package will depend on your (and if applicable your partner’s) income. Everyone can be asked to pay the Basic Daily Fee which is currently $9.85p.d. while people with income higher than the full age pension can also be asked to pay an Income Tested Care Fee.