Everyone likes to think that they’ll continue leading independent lifestyles as they age. For most people, there’s no reason why that goal cannot be a reality. However, some people may need care and support as they get older to continue having independence and freedom.
While some relatives, especially children, may offer to become primary carers and provide in home care for their elderly parents or family members, it’s not always a realistic solution. As you can appreciate, most family members already have families of their own to support.
Plus, few family members are fully trained and qualified care professionals. That means they might not know the best ways to attend to their loved one’s home care needs, especially with disability care and dementia care.
With all that in mind, it often makes sense for a loved one to look at receiving a home care package. The following describes more about home care packages in detail and how they can pay for “at home care” by an NDIS provider or supported independent living provider.
What Is a Home Care Package?
In a nutshell, home care packages are effective ways for older Australians to get affordable domiciliary care and personal care at home. They’re ideal for people who have complex or intensive care needs and need a coordinated approach to private care at home.
Home care packages get subsidised by the Australian government and enable older adults to get financial assistance with all kinds of home care services. The types of services your loved one can get financial help with include:
- Personal care and nursing services;
- Cleaning, home maintenance, and assistive technology;
- Community services, such as transport and social support.
There are certain costs that home care packages won’t cover, such as food, holidays, and payment for services covered by other schemes like the Medicare Benefits Schedule. Home care packages get provided by organisations like HomeCaring.
Who Is Eligible For Home Care Packages?
Your loved one will likely be eligible for a home care package if they’re an elderly person who needs coordinated care services to help them lead an independent life at home, and they don’t need to live in group homes or disability accommodation.
Suppose you currently provide primary care services for your family member. In that case, a home care package can offer financial support towards respite care, enabling you to balance your home and work life better while still providing care for your loved one.
Home care packages can also help pay towards palliative care costs and live in care if your family member needs 24 hour care or overnight care. Also, your family member is likely eligible for home care packages if they need NDIS support coordination.
Navigating the Home Care Package Process
Before helping your family member with their home care package journey, it first makes sense to discuss their care needs. As you can imagine, starting a conversation on the topic can sometimes be challenging.
That’s because your loved one might feel anxious that aged care provision will only mean them moving out of their home and into a group home. You could start the conversation by asking if they think they’d benefit from extra help around the house and in the garden.
It’s essential you stress they have several options for their care needs and that you only want to help them find an option that best suits them. You should also highlight that your goal is to help them be independent at home and living in familiar surroundings.
The following are some practical steps to help your family member navigate the home care package process:
Starting the Process
The first step in the home care package process is completing an assessment. It must get conducted by the Aged Care Assessment Team and is typically known as an ACAT assessment.
To arrange an assessment, you will need to contact My Aged Care. They are the national aged care service set up by the Australian government. Before you contact My Aged Care, it’s worth discussing your loved one’s care needs.
My Aged Care will want to learn more about your family member’s living arrangements, their health details, along with any care and support they are already receiving and any limitations your loved one currently experiences at home.
It’s worth bearing in mind that your family member may get a home support assessment conducted by a regional assessment service. As with ACAT assessments, home support assessments get conducted in your loved one’s home.
A home support assessment might occur if My Aged Care feels your family member may benefit from entry-level services offered by the Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP).
However, if My Aged Care believes your loved one might need higher levels of care, they’ll continue with an ACAT assessment.
Completing the Home Care Package Assessment
The person that carries out your loved one’s ACAT assessment is usually a local healthcare professional, such as a nurse or social worker. The good news is your family member can have you or another relative present at the assessment.
Whoever is conducting the ACAT assessment will ask a range of questions, such as:
- What level of support, if any, does your family member receive;
- Details of their health and lifestyle habits;
- Any physical problems they might experience, such as trouble walking or lifting things;
- Their level of participation with their family and the local community.
It’s essential that your family member knows they have certain rights during the assessment. The goal is to end up with a home care package that best suits the needs of your relative – not the government.
It can make sense to prepare a list of questions to ask the assessor, such as which services are available locally and what are the possible waiting times. The ACAT assessor will also need to see some information from your loved one, such as:
- Their Medicare card and another proof of ID;
- Any referral letters from their GP;
- Contact details for their GP and other health professionals.
Eligibility for Home Care Packages
If an ACAT assessment gets conducted, your family member will need to wait for the assessor’s decision. That’s because there are many variables they’ll need to consider, such as whether home care packages, short-term care, or care home options are appropriate.
When the assessor reaches a decision, they will write to you or your family member and inform them of the outcome. The letter usually gets sent out around two weeks after the assessment.
It’s worth bearing in mind that if your family member is eligible for a home care package, it could take months to get allocated one. That’s because there’s, unfortunately, a long waiting list.
If your loved one isn’t eligible for a home care package, it’s possible to appeal the decision by requesting a review from ACAT.
Calculating the Costs
Assuming your family member is eligible for a home care package, you’ll need to calculate the costs for their care. There are four different home care package levels, and your loved one might get asked to contribute towards the costs depending on their income.
It’s possible to apply for financial hardship assistance; if successful, the fees they are liable to pay will get waived or reduced.
Selecting a Senior Care Provider
Lastly, your loved one will need to choose a provider for their home care package. Thankfully, there are numerous senior care providers, so you both shouldn’t have trouble selecting the right one for your family member’s needs.
There are a few ways that you can find the best care provider. For example, shortlisting NDIS service providers can help you find home care package providers that are approved for NDIS.
It’s also worth conducting online research into each suitable provider and finding out more about the services they offer and their commitment to quality care in the community.
As mentioned earlier, it can take some time for elderly Australians to get assigned home care packages. In the meantime, it makes sense to organise in home care for your loved one.
Your family member’s care needs don’t have to be expensive, and if they have some savings, they can use some of that to pay towards the costs until they start receiving the government’s subsidised home care package.
The home care package process can seem like a daunting one at the best of times. However, it’s a straightforward process if you’re willing to help your family member navigate it the right way.
Spending some time researching the process and having the correct information to hand during the ACAT assessment will make the home care package process easier to navigate and reduce stress and anxiety for your loved one.