As you grow older, you may find that you need extra support to continue living at home.
Maybe you are starting to find everyday tasks – for example, doing housework, climbing the stairs, going to the shops, lifting things – difficult to do on your own. Or perhaps you have a chronic health condition that requires ongoing management and care.
One option that may be available to you is a Home Care Package. Not sure what this is? Here is some information on how a Home Care Package works, what services you can get with a Home Care Package, the costs involved, and the best way to apply for one.
What is a Home Care Package?
A Home Care Package is a government-funded program that allows older Australians to receive care services in their own home, so they can live independently for as long as possible. It can be used to access all kinds of services, such as:
- Personal care (e.g. help with showering, dressing and continence)
- Help with domestic chores
- Help with shopping
- Medication management
- Nursing services (e.g. wound care)
- Home modifications
- Mobility equipment (e.g. walking frames, mobility scooters)
- Exercise programs and social outings
- Therapies (e.g. physiotherapy, occupational therapy)
- Help with cooking meals
There are four levels of Home Care Packages with different funding amounts, ranging from basic support (level 1) through to high care needs (level 4).
Once you have been approved for a package, you will be assigned the level that best suits your circumstances. You are then free to choose a service provider that you like, so long as they are approved by the government to provide Home Care Packages. The government then pays that provider a subsidy to deliver care in your home.
How much care can I get with a Home Care Package?
The amount of care you can access from your Home Care package depends on what level you have been approved for.
|Level||Care need||Amount subsidized by the government||Support|
|Home care package Level 1||Basic care needs||approx. $9,000 a year||Suited to those who still want to live independently but require support in day-to-day activities like gardening and housework.|
|Home care package Level 2||Low care needs||approx. $15,750 a year||Includes services like personal care, transport, shopping, podiatry and exercise classes to help with independent living.|
|Home care package Level 3||Intermediate care needs||approx. $34,250 a year||Along with personal care and domestic help, includes medication and treatment support, social outings, transport, therapies, home modifications.|
|Home care package Level 4||High care needs||approx. $52,000 a year||Includes visiting the client every day, with carers on hand to assist with a wide range of tasks. Suited to those with chronic conditions such as dementia.|
Once you have been assigned a level, you and your service provider decide together how best to spend your package funding, based on your needs and what would be most helpful to you at home.
Keep in mind that a Home Care Package doesn’t provide funding for food, rent or mortgage repayments, day-to-day bills, holidays, discretionary items or purchases already covered by Medicare or the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.
How much will a Home Care Package cost me?
Home Care Packages make receiving care in your own home much more affordable. Part of your package is subsidised by the government, depending on which level you are approved for (see table above).
You are expected to contribute a certain amount to your home care, if you can afford it. This is called a basic daily fee. If your income is over the maximum amount of income for a full pensioner, you will also be asked to pay an income-tested care fee. The amount you pay is determined through a formal income assessment. There is an annual and lifetime limit on how high the income-tested care fee is.
To estimate how much you may need to contribute towards your Home Care Package, use the fee estimator calculator on the My Aged Care website. To discuss how much a Home Care Package might cost you with Home Caring, get in touch for a free consultation.
How do I apply for a Home Care Package?
Applying and getting approval for a Home Care package can take some time, so it’s a good idea to get started as soon as possible. If you would like assistance, please get in touch and we can walk you through the process (especially if English is your second language).
Here are the steps to applying for a Home Care Package:
1. Apply for an assessment through My Aged Care
The first step to receiving a Home Care Package is applying for an assessment with ACAT (the Aged Care Assessment Team). You can easily do this online through the My Aged Care website or by calling My Aged Care on 1800 200 422.
The assessment takes about 20 minutes, and you’ll be asked questions about your health, how you’re coping at home, and what services you already receive. You will need your Medicare card to do the assessment, so have it handy before you start.
2. Complete an assessment with ACAT in your home
Once you have successfully applied for an assessment, your local ACAT assessor will contact you to arrange a face-to-face assessment in your home. They may talk to you further about how you are managing with day-to-day tasks, ask for permission to talk to your doctor about your medical history, and explain what type of care you might be eligible for.
If possible, have a loved one, family member or friend accompany you for the assessment, so they can help answer questions and take down any information you will need. For more information, here’s our article on what to expect from your ACAT assessment.
3. Receive your Home Care Package approval letter
Once you have been approved for a Home Care Package, you will receive a letter telling you which level you have been allocated. You will be placed in a government-managed national queue for access to home care, and be notified when a package has been assigned to you.
How long you wait depends on your priority level. If you would like to receive care services while you are in the queue, you can apply for the Commonwealth Home Support Program to tie you over, or pay privately for services in the interim. Please chat to us at HomeCaring to discuss your options. You may also be a suitable candidate to apply for High Priority Home Care; read our article to find out how to apply.
4. Choose a home care package provider
Home Care Packages are designed to give people choice over who provides their care. This means that you get to choose your provider, keeping in mind that only government-approved providers can host Home Care Packages for clients, as they have satisfied the legal and social requirements to do so.
Once your package is available, you will have 56 days to choose your provider. HomeCaring delivers home care packages that are individualised to fit your unique goals and needs. To chat to us about how we can help, please get in touch.