There are a plethora of options available when looking at aged care services. Home Care Packages (often abbreviated to HCPs) are arguably the most commonly talked-about option. However, there is also the Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHSP), which also provides care for the aging population. Both HCPs and CHSP are government-funded services, which often leads to confusion between the two options. While both are designed to provide aged care, there are a few fundamental differences between them.
In this guide, we’ll walk you through all of the main ways that HCPs and CHSP differ from one another. This should help you distinguish the two and decide which option might be best for your situation.
The Level of Care Provided
Firstly, there’s a key difference in the level of support and care provided by either option. With the CHSP, a limited range of services is provided. Typically, this is directed at senior citizens that only need a small bit of assistance. It can include general help around the house, transporting them from A to B, making meals, modifying the home, and so on. All of these services are fairly basic and exist for seniors that are fairly independent but lack in one or two areas.
By contrast, HCPs offer significantly more support for a range of different individuals. One of the biggest differences is that HCPs come in four different levels – Level 1 is the lowest, offering basic care needs, with Level 4 being for higher care requirements. The idea is that the individual is assigned one of these levels depending on their needs. From here, a greater or lesser degree of support is provided based on the person.
To give you more clarity on things, the exact definition of each level looks like this:
- Level 1 – offers support for people with basic care needs
- Level 2 – provides support for people with low care needs
- Level 3 – supports people with intermediate care needs
- Level 4 – supports people with high care needs
People in the lower levels may need similar support to that which the CHSP provides. In Level 4, you’re likely to receive support for seniors suffering from more serious and debilitating issues – like dementia.
When you look at the services provided across both programs, they offer similar support. Both the CHSP and HCPs give people access to a variety of home care services that help to improve their lives. The big difference is that HCPs can offer more of these services, more frequently. Part of this comes down to the funding, which we’ll discuss in the next point.
Levels of Funding
While both programs are funded by the Australian government, it goes without saying that HCPs receive more money. Why is this the case? Well, refer back to the previous point where we discussed the level of care provided. HCPs have four different tiers, meaning they offer more care than a CHSP. Within each tier, a budget is allocated depending on the support offered. As a result, the higher the tier, the more money you are eligible to access, meaning more care is provided.
Naturally, this means HCPs can offer more services more frequently. This can be advantageous for seniors that need a higher degree of care – or perhaps ones that need basic care, but on a very frequent basis. For example, somebody that needs help around the house every single day. They might be better off with HCPs as there’s enough money to fund this level of care and support.
Contributing To Your Care Packages
While we’re talking about funding, it makes sense to transition onto the topic of care package costs and contributions. Here, we see yet another difference in how HCPs and CHSP are set up. To begin, CHSP provides you with a government subsidy that goes towards any of the services you need. However, and this is key, you will be asked to make contributions to the overall costs.
How much will you have to contribute? This depends on your particular situation and care demands. It also varies between CHSP providers, but it averaged out at around 10% in 2018-19. In essence, CHSP works by specialist providers getting funding from the government and providing subsidised services to those that need it.
HCPs follow a similar pattern, but the main difference is in how much money is provided per year by the HCP service providers. Again, this correlates to the tier level that your care needs fall into. It works like this:
- You choose a service provider
- The government provides funding for the service provider
- You contribute to the cost of the package
For context, here’s a breakdown of the most recent figures stipulating the funding for each level:
- Level 1 – around $9,000 a year
- Level 2 – around $15,750 a year
- Level 3 – around $34,250 a year
- Level 4 – around $52,000 a year
So depending on which level you fall in to, you have access to this money. In effect, you will work with your care provider to figure out the best way to spend this money every year. It ensures that the money is spent on services that will help you the most.
How much do you contribute to HCPs? Again, it varies from provider to provider, but we can break it down into two main costs:
- Basic daily fee – this will vary based on your care package level, with Level 4 capping out at $10.74 a day
- Income-tested care fee – this can be anything up to $30.86, but it’s not an essential contribution. It’s only for people that can afford to pay it after going through an income-assessment
To summarise, you have to contribute to the cost of your services under the CHSP. Part of the costs are covered by the government, and you contribute a small amount. With HCPs, the government provides funding based on your tier level, and you have to pay a couple of different fees.
Assessment & Eligibility
As you’ve already seen, CHSP and HCPs tend to focus on different demographics. While both provide aged care services subsidised by the government, different types of people will be eligible for either programme.
To find out which one you are eligible for, you must undergo an assessment. This starts by registering with My Aged Care, where you’ll have a brief online assessment to complete. You can also complete this over the phone, but it’s designed to set you into one of two categories: low-level needs or complex needs.
You are only eligible for HCPs is you fall into the complex needs category. If this happens, you will need an ACAT assessment in your home. Here, someone from the ACAT (Aged Care Assessment Team) will organise the meeting and see how complex your situation is. They may deem that your needs aren’t as complex as first thought, meaning you qualify for CHSP instead of HCPs. But, the ACAT is the only organisation that can assess you for HCP eligibility.
This assessment is free, and it will be undertaken by a team that usually includes a nurse and one other healthcare worker. It should last between 45-80 minutes, and you’ll be asked a few questions on your health & medical history, physical requirements, psychological & social needs, as well as any special concerns. A report is completed by the ACAT after the assessment, and you’ll get the results in around two weeks.
By contrast, the CHSP requires a different assessment by the RAS (Regional Assessment Service). If you’re put in the low-level needs category, the RAS will conduct a face-to-face assessment with you. It will be similar to the one carried out by the ACAT, but less thorough. They’re basically assessing if you qualify for CHSP or not. It may transpire that your needs are so low that you, unfortunately, don’t qualify for subsidised support. If you do qualify for CHSP, the RAS will refer you to a provider to ensure you get the most suitable care services.
Of course, it’s worth understanding that you can’t access both options of support at the same time. Seniors that are eligible for HCPs will not be able to take advantage of CHSP as well. It’s not uncommon for someone to start on the CHSP, then move up to HCPs if their needs become more extreme. In these situations, any funding and support from the CHSP will cease when you qualify for HCP support packages.
Summary: The Differences Between HCPs and CHSP
To conclude this guide, we will now go through all of the differences discussed above. This will provide a nice short summary that explains how the two programs differ:
- HCPs are designed for people with more serious aged care needs, while CHSP is targeted at people with low-level needs
- CHSP provides a few basic levels of care, while HCPs are split into four different tier levels depending on the severity of the individual’s needs
- Both HCPs and the CHSP are government-funded, but HCPs receive more funding based on the tier levels
- The CHSP is subsidised by the government, but you have to contribute to the overall cost of your package. HCPs are given funding base on the tier system, and you will only have to contribute small fees to your care provider
- HCPs require an ACAT assessment, while CHSP only needs a RAS one
Hopefully, this helps you understand all of the main differences between these two government-funding aged care options. It’s worth pointing out that we are a provider of Home Care Packages here at HomeCaring. If you’d like to learn more about how we can help, feel free to get in touch with our team today.