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Choosing between home care or aged care

At some point, you and your family will need to discuss what is the best option for your ongoing care.

Key points:

  • Talk to your Government aged care assessor whether staying at home is a priority for you or if an aged care home is the best option

  • There are many reasons to consider either option, like the level of support, type of care, community, cost or location

  • Aged care and home care both have benefits, it is just about figuring out which fits best into your current situation

Older man receiving help from his carer
Everyone will need to look at their options for aged care services to find the best solution for them at some point. [Source: iStock]

The two choices you are likely to discuss is whether home care or aged care is the best decision for you.

This decision will come down to what you prefer; home care can keep you at home for longer, whereas moving into a residential aged care facility provides you security and care when you need it.

Assessment

When you get accessed by an Aged Care Assessment Team/Service (ACAT/S), they will decide what care you require and the best way you can receive that.

During this assessment meeting you can outline what your goals are, whether you believe aged care will meet your needs or if you think home care is the best way to meet your personal goals of remaining at home.

You may only require low care assistance at home through the Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP), whereas a Home Care Package can provide a higher level of care.

If you are eligible for a Level 3 or 4 Home Care Package (HCP), this usually means you will also be eligible to access residential aged care. You will need to get another assessment to receive approval for aged care.

Determine the differences between home care and aged care and what will best suit you, and then talk to your ACAT/S assessor to organise a reassessment.

What to consider

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of ACH Group, Frank Weits, says you need to take the time to consider what care type best suits your needs so that you can live comfortably and well.

"As we age it can become harder to do the things we once did. These challenges look different for everyone and the solutions need to be personalised," explains Mr Weits.

"A Home Care Package can be a preferred option for people looking to meet these challenges and build support to continue living at home.

“For those requiring more around the clock care and higher levels of care, residential homes can become the preferred option. 

"Older people and their families often choose residential aged care when they or their loved one has complex or high care needs, is living with late stage dementia, or for end of life

care."

There are a number of things you should consider before choosing home care or aged care as the best option for you:

  • Support requirements - The CHSP provides very basic assistance at home, while home care provides more hours and support options for the Package you are eligible for, and this will be different compared to having all-round care at an aged care facility. If you need it, an aged care worker will be able to assist you no matter the time of day, so you can be assured that someone will be there for you when you need it.

  • The right care for you - Your CHSP and HCP is tailored to your specific needs and areas that require assistance, making it very individualised. In nursing homes, you are receiving care along with many other residents that also require care. Maintaining a highly individualised care plan isn't always attainable in nursing homes.

  • Access to community and lifestyle - Under home care assistance, there are specific services that help you stay connected with your community, including carers that can take you where you want to go. Nursing homes, however, tend to focus on the community within their own walls. The way you wish to live should be a factor in your decision.

  • Finance and cost - Both home care and aged care have different costs involved, and you will usually have to put something towards the cost of care and services. For home care, you will likely be paying a basic daily fee and an income-tested care fee for the services you receive. In aged care, you not only have the basic daily fee and mean-tested care fee to pay, there are also accommodation costs to consider. The accommodation can be a rather large financial cost to get the room itself.

  • Location and where you want to live - If you have a personal attachment to your home, receiving home care may be the best option for you. However, if you are concerned about being far away from family, moving into an aged care facility can help with that issue and allow for you to locate yourself closer to those you love. If you choose to move, you will also have to deal with decisions around keeping, renting or selling your home.

Reasons for choosing homecare:

  • You are able to remain living in the home you know and love for longer. Many people have a special attachment to their home or want to avoid nursing homes for as long as possible; home care can be one way to assist with that goal

  • Home care is tailored to your personal needs and goals and can cater for both low (CHSP) and high care (HCP) support needs

  • Home care can assist in you maintaining your overall independence

  • Access to a range of important services like nursing, social experiences, and allied health, with links to respite and carer support services

  • You can decide what your goals are when receiving home care, which can either be making your life easier at home or assisting in reablement of skills or abilities that you are struggling with

  • Your services will be built around your own routine, so you won't need to change anything to fit someone else's schedule

Reasons for choosing aged care:

  • Assurance that you will have access to care from trained professionals when you need it

  • Depending on the facility you chose, you can receive care that changes with your health needs, whether you improve or if your health deteriorates

  • There are many different types of facilities you can choose from, like a nursing home, an assisted living facility, or independent living village

  • Aged care facilities cater for all your needs, no matter your cultural, religious or social background

  • A new community right at your room doorstep and access to fun activities and social groups

  • Peace of mind that you are safe and secure in your nursing home and will have your health needs met by professionals

What reasons do you have for choosing home care or aged care? Tell us in the comments below.

Related content:

When should I consider help at home?
Options while waiting for a Home Care Package
What to consider when deciding on a nursing home

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