As we age, thought is required to be given to the steps required to be able to stay at home as long as you can.
Options include managing your own care with the help of family and friends, paying for help privately, perhaps entering aged care sooner than you would like, and accessing government subsidised packages to assist in paying for in home services to be provided.
Unfortunately there are more elders with need than there are packages available and the queue is lengthening every day.
An interim measure available is the Commonwealth Home Support Scheme, which can help with transport, meals on wheels and community nursing, cleaning etc.
A word of advice – do not view the step of accessing home care as the start of the slide into an aged care facility – don’t delay accessing services as the demand is increasing and you want to ensure that you can get the help you need when you need it and not have to wait in a long queue.
Our advice is to start planning ahead and determine your eligibility with an Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT) assessment – this assessment will dictate the package required from level one for low care needs e.g. cleaning – to level four for higher care needs, showering, dressing, cooking etc.
Be aware that as the need is great, you may be allocated a package lower than your assessed needs and go on the waiting list for the higher level package.
Many in this situation make do or pay for extra services as required.
Once a package and funds are allocated then you have 56 days to choose a provider from the date of your assignment letter. Go to myagedcare.gov.au to access a list of providers in your area.
Do your homework on your short list of providers and access the checklists on the myagedcare website to ensure you are asking the right questions. Also ask for testimonials from existing clients.
Once you have decided on a provider, that provider will host the package and manage it for you for a fee.
You will be asked to sign a Home Care Agreement.
This is a legal agreement which sets out:-
- details of the package to be provided;
- who is to provide the services;
- how much the services will cost;
- if exit fees are payable (if you choose to leave one provider and move to another provider).
You will also work out a Care Plan with your provider – i.e. selecting the services and care required to enable you to stay in your own home.
A monthly budget will let you see funding available and where it is to be spent.
Depending on your annual income you may be asked to pay a Basic Daily Fee or an Income Tested Fee.
This can be a stressful time for seniors and their families and sometimes expert advice may be required.
Call Christine Matsinger at McColm Matsinger Lawyers for advice on your Home Care Agreement or for a referral to an expert that can help with other aspects of sourcing the right Home Care Package for you.