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Introduction to Home Care

Living independently in your own home is not always easy when you get older.

With the right support, you will be able to continue living in your own home (Source: Shutterstock)
With the right support, you will be able to continue living in your own home (Source: Shutterstock)

Sometimes simple tasks like taking a shower or getting dressed can become a major ordeal, and if you no longer have a driver’s licence, getting to appointments can be hard.

With the right support, you can receive help to make your life easier, and this will enable you to continue living in your own home.

Depending on your needs, you can receive support in many areas including:

  • Help with domestic tasks such as laundry, cleaning or meal preparation
  • Transport to appointments, shopping
  • Assistance with personal care such as showering and dressing
  • Gardening and home maintenance
  • Medication management
  • Counselling and support
  • Fitness and rehabilitation
  • Allied health support such as podiatry or occupational therapy
  • After hospital care
  • Goods and equipment such as mobility aides
  • Social support and other activities
  • Nursing care such as changing dressings on wounds
  • End of life care at home

Types of home care

If you want to stay in your own home but need assistance to continue living independently, you can get support from the Government. You can access home care support through the Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP) or the Home Care Packages (HCP) program.

Depending on your needs, you can receive support in many areas including meal preparation (Source: Shutterstock)
Depending on your needs, you can receive support in many areas including meal preparation (Source: Shutterstock)

Entry level support is offered through the CHSP, if you only need basic assistance to continue living independently at home.

If your needs exceed the level of assistance offered through CHSP, then the HCP program can offer higher intensity support to help you stay at home.

How to access Government funded home care services

In Australia there are a wide variety of organisations and businesses offering different home support services to help you at home.

The Australian government provides funding for home care packages, and these are offered via providers using the 'Consumer Directed Care' principles of service. This means you can choose the type of home support you receive, when you receive it and who you receive it from.

If you are accessing Government funded aged care services for the first time, you will need to be assessed to determine your level of care needs. Contact My Aged Care via its website myagedcare.gov.au or call the My Aged Care contact centre on 1800 200 422.

Types of assessment

When you contact My Aged Care, a representative will discuss your needs by asking questions about:

  • Any support you are currently receiving
  • If you have any health concerns
  • How you are managing with activities around the home
  • Some questions relating to your safety in the home.

The outcome of this conversation depends on your needs. You will either be referred to services, need a face-to-face home support assessment through the Regional Assessment Service (RAS)*, or if you have more complex needs, a more comprehensive assessment conducted by an existing Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT) or (or ACAS in Victoria) may be required.

The Consumer Directed Care model lets you choose whoever you want to provide your services (Source: Shutterstock)
The Consumer Directed Care model lets you choose whoever you want to provide your services (Source: Shutterstock)

The more comprehensive assessment may also be organised if you are leaving hospital or you are in need of respite care.

Choosing your home care provider

Under the consumer directed care, you can choose whoever you want to provide your services – if you are eligible for several services, you may choose one provider for your domestic tasks and another one to assist with your medication management.

If you already know which provider or providers you would like to deliver your home care services, ask My Aged Care to arrange for them to contact you.

Alternatively, you can ask My Aged Care for a referral code, and when you decide on which provider you would like to receive help from, contact it direct with the referral code.

Financial contribution

The Australian Government provides subsidies for home care services through its Commonwealth Home Support Programme and Home Care Packages. (Except for Western Australia which continues to operate the State Government administered Home and Community Care (HACC) services.)

However Government funding does not always cover the entire cost of the services needed and, depending on your income, you may have to contribute towards the cost of your home services.

The amount you contribute is on a means tested basis.

Always discuss with your provider the financial aspects of your home care service before you receive the relevant service.

Other home care services

Local organisations

Some councils and charities offer some services such as transport, social support and help with home and garden maintenance. Many of these services are free or require a minimum payment.

Private homecare

You can pay entirely for your home support services through a private homecare provider. Private home care providers offer the full range of services including 24-hour Registered Nurses for complex care needs, physiotherapists and drivers, and carers to assist with shopping and personal care. There is no limit to the number of hours of care provided.

There is no need for government assessments. The provider will talk with you and tailor a package according to your needs and wishes.

As private home care services are arranged directly between you and the private home care company, be sure to ask for a full breakdown of what you will be receiving and paying for, and where there may be any additional costs.

* Western Australia

While negotiations on the jointly government funded Home and Community Care program transition for older people in Western Australia are underway, they are still at an early stage. Contact centre staff can assist people living in Western Australia to find assessors in their local area.

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