Home Care Packages
If you need low level or entry level support to help you stay in your home, then you can get a home support assessment with a Regional Assessor. The assessment looks at your needs and age. Generally, you need to be over 65 to access this type of support. Support is then provided through the Commonwealth Home Support Program. These services can include help with meals, showering, help with medicines, help with chores, gardening and transport. The cost of these services depends on the type of support that is provided and who the provider is. The cost you pay is only a contribution to the services and is usually quite modest.
If your needs for assistance are greater or more complex than what the Commonwealth Home Support Program can provide then you should arrange to have an ACAT Assessment which will assess you for the type of home care package you need. These packages offer a co-ordinated approach to the delivery of help to you at home.
Services that can be offered include personal care which can include showering, nursing which can include wound care, or help with medication, meal prep and help with feeding, domestic assistance which can be help with jobs around your home, gardening help, home modifications for safety and access, and transport, and social support.
The Government wants you to stay at home as long as possible. It costs the Government less to provide a subsidy for a home care package than it does to find an aged care bed. Some recent figures indicated that on average, an age care bed costs about $250.00 per day – and many residents only pay $51.21 a day (which is 85% of the daily full pension) leaving the Government to pick up the shortfall of around $70,000.00 per year.
Government funded home care packages come in four (4) different levels:
About $8,900 per year for Level 1 basic care needs;
$15,700 per year for Level 2 low level care needs;
$34,000 per year for intermediate care needs; and
$51,600 per year for high care needs.
There are many Home Care Package Providers – you can go to the My Aged Care website and us the “Find a Provider” tool.
Care needs to be taken to choose a service provider that is right for you. Ask around and get a recommendation if you can. As with a lot of things, doing your homework will pay off. You will be asked to sign a Services Agreement – which is a legal contract and which needs a thorough review to ensure you understand exactly what you are signing up for – and that is where we as lawyers can assist.
Once approved, the Government pays the subsidy to your provider and they work with you to provide a package of services to meet your needs in accordance with the model of Consumer Directed Care . Home Care, Support and Clinical Services should be listed as applicable, There should also be a Home Care Budget and a Care Plan included. You should check the fees and charges from the Provider and also watch out for exit fees if you want to change Provider.
Depending on your assets and income, you may have to pay a contribution towards the cost of your care which may be the basic daily fee of $10.75 per day, or an income tested care fee up to $30.86 per day. The amount will depend on a formal income assessment through the Department of Human Services/Centrelink.
NOTE: There are annual and lifetime limits on those fees.
What you don’t want to happen is to be forced into an Aged Care Facility because you are still waiting for your package at the level you require to enable you to stay at home. For example, you may have been assessed for Level 3 or 4, but be receiving a lower level package in the interim – which does not meet your needs – meaning also that you may have to rely on family and friends to provide care or pay for services to fill that needs gap, or worse still, your health declines while you wait for the right help to be provided.
I am told the wait time for Home Care Packages varies – but can be up to 12 months.
At McColm Matsinger Lawyers our advice is not to delay. If you need help – get into the system ASAP so any delays in accessing the help you need is minimised as much as possible. And another tip – when getting assessed, answer the questions accurately – answer as if it was a bad day – no point in not doing so when the aim is to get some help with your daily tasks. You don’t have to pretend its all good if its not.
Take the view that this help at home will help you stay at home and maintain your independence for as long as possible, rather than losing independence. It’s ok to ask for and receive the help you need.
Short Term Care
There is also short term care available – for a set period. There are three (3) main types:
- Short term restorative care for up to 8 weeks to help you with daily tasks;
- Transition Care – if you have had a stay in hospital and need help to get back on your feet;
- Respite Care – if you or the person that cares for you needs to take a break.