If you’re looking for a helping hand at home, a home care package could be right for you. It’s government subsidised and lets you access long-term coordinated support services.
Regal can help you book an assessment with the Aged Care Assessment Team and then navigate the National Queue to find your ideal package level. We can also advocate for you if your needs change.
What is a home care package?
A home care package is a government-subsidized way for elderly Australians to receive long-term coordinated support services to help them live at home safely and independently. They provide choice, control and flexibility to meet individual needs by using funding provided by the Government to pay for a range of services including allied health, personal care, domestic assistance, meals, transport and home modifications.
There are four levels of home care packages – level 1 covers the lowest level of support with a few visits each week by carers, while level 4 provides high-level support for Elders with complex needs. Different packages also include supplements for specific conditions, like dementia and veterans’ mental health, or particular circumstances, such as living in rural, remote or isolated areas.
Once an Elder has been assessed as eligible, they select a service provider, such as Southcare, to deliver their package. How long it takes for a package to be assigned will depend on how urgently an Elder needs help and which level they are eligible for. It also depends on which provider an Elder chooses and the number of other people on the waiting list ahead of them.
As a result, some Elders may need to wait for a package to become available and they can still access short-term support through the Commonwealth Home Support Program in the meantime. If a waiting list is in place, the priority allocation is determined by the Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT) and an Elder can be moved up or down the queue depending on their needs.
How do I apply for a home care package?
Home Care Packages help people who need some assistance to stay in their own homes and communities. They provide funds to support a range of services and activities to keep you safe, healthy and connected to the community. You will work with your approved provider to decide how to use your funding. The government pays a subsidy to your provider who arranges and manages the services on your behalf. There are four levels of Home Care Packages based on your care needs and your approved provider will set up a package of services to meet your needs.
Depending on the level of Home Care Package you are allocated, you will be required to pay a basic daily care fee and an income tested care contribution. It’s important to find out how much your provider charges so you can plan your care and budget. MyPlan is a free tool that helps you understand costs and compare providers.
If you or your loved one is eligible for a Home Care Package, the next step is to complete an assessment. An Aged Care Assessment Team or Service (ACAT) will determine what level of care you require and then refer you to a home care provider. The ACAT process is free, confidential and available to all Australians. While you wait for a home care package, you can also access entry level services through the Commonwealth Home Support Programme.
What are the benefits of a home care package?
Home care packages are a great way to receive government-funded support services that help you continue living at home. The service options are flexible, with a range of supports and aids available to meet your individual needs. You can choose the level of home care package that suits your requirements, with four different levels of funding available. The funding increases as the level of care you require increases.
When you receive a home care package, you will be assigned a home care provider (such as Southcare), who can assist you with your ongoing home care services. The home care provider will work with you to identify your individual care needs and arrange a plan of home care services for you to receive. You may also be required to pay an income tested fee depending on the home care package level you are allocated.
The Home Care Package reforms are all about driving innovation and competition in the home care sector. This should lead to better-quality services and better value for money for older Australians.
When you have your face-to-face meeting with the ACAT assessor, it’s important to talk about what support you already receive, whether this is from family and friends or from a private company like Coleen’s Australian Unity care worker. You should also talk about your goals and discuss what you’d like to get out of your home care package.
How long will it take to get a home care package?
Once you are approved for a home care package, you join a national queue to wait until a package of your level becomes available. Wait times are influenced by your priority, which is determined by the assessment process. Those with higher priorities are more likely to have their package assigned faster than those with lower ones, but it can still take some time.
While you are waiting for your package, it’s a good idea to explore providers and the services they offer to see which one best suits your needs. It’s also important to keep in mind that there are other support services available, like the Commonwealth Home Support Programme, which offers basic assistance, including cleaning, transport and health services.
It’s worth remembering that any costs that you aren’t allowed to spend your package money on (like food) should be covered by other support services. If you aren’t already getting this type of help, it’s a great idea to chat with family and friends about how they might be able to help you.
If you find that your needs change while you’re waiting for your home care package, it may be worthwhile to ask your assessor to reassess you. This can be done in person or over the phone and is free of charge. However, you will need to be able to provide evidence that the changes have occurred.