Mar 27, 2018

What You Need To Know About Accessing Home Care

The Australian Government’s Home Care Package Program allows older Australians to have access to different levels of support and care from a Home Care Provider of their choice. This support and care is provided to them in their own home, enabling our ageing population to remain at home longer.

To access a Home Care Package, there is an assessment and approval process, and once the results of your assessment have been processed and you have been granted a Home Care Package, you can then choose an Approved Home Care Provider to coordinate the care and services you require to continue living safely in your own home.

It sounds simple, however there are currently some challenges with accessing Home Care Packages that I have witnessed firsthand when assisting some families through the process, and when applying and organising your package, there are a few things everyone should be aware of:

Home Care Package waiting times

The waiting times from first applying for your package and receiving your packages can take in some cases take 6 – 12 months. Level 2 packages are around the 6-month time frame but the higher Level 3 and 4 Packages can be up to a year.

When there is a delay in approval for home care packages this can cause significant stress for the person needing care and in some cases any loved ones currently caring for them.

I have several clients desperately waiting for the high level package (Level 4). In some cases, a Service Provider can access CHSP funding (Commonwealth Home Support Program) to assist with increased care in the interim, as long as the person has approval for a Level 3 or 4 Package. You can also access ‘Fee for Service’ support but this can be very expensive.

Being aware of these challenges, my advice is to not leave it too late to apply for a Home Care Package, and definitely don’t wait for a ‘crisis’ before you apply for a Home Care Package.

As the wait times can be long, applying for your package while you care needs a low will mean you will get your care sooner, and as your needs increase you can reapply for a higher package.

If you are already in a situation where you are waiting for a package to be allocated, keep in mind that you can access extra support, if needed, with the Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHSP).

Choosing your home care provider

Once you have received your confirmation letter you can start negotiating details of your Home Care Agreement with your preferred provider. The services you receive will be agreed between you and the provider you choose.

Be mindful that you are in control of your package and you have the choice of Approved Home Care Providers. If possible, do your research to find the provider that is willing to work with you and your family to provide the most value and support from your package.

It’s also a good idea to read and ensure you understand the letters you receive from the Government regarding allocation and status of your package.

There is a time frame for you to activate the package and I have witnessed some clients who have not been aware of this and have missed out on their allocation!

‘My Aged Care’ is working hard to assist and streamline the process, and there are also several advisory services, that can help navigate the aged care journey if you need assistance.

What’s in a Home Care Package?

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The standard services you can receive as part of your care plan negotiated with your provider can include:

  • Nursing care
  • Domestic assistance
  • Personal care
  • Transport
  • Social support
  • Home maintenance support
  • Food services
  • Medication management

Extra Need Supplements

  • Dementia and Cognition supplement
  • Veterans’ Supplement
  • Oxygen Supplement

Aged Care and Home Care Packages

If you are already receiving aged care services, it may be possible for you to receive care and services through a range of other programs:

  • Transition Care Program
  • Community Visitors Scheme
  • Disability Program
  • Continence Aids Payment Scheme
  • Palliative Care
  • Department of Veteran’s Affairs Program

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