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Myths about in home care

Home care is a growing area of the aged care sector but often older Australians and their families are unaware of the many different options available to them or are hesitant because of the assumptions they have about what is involved.

Key points:

  • Home care can enhance your independence in the home and in your community

  • Providers of home care can accommodate for the needs of people with dementia

  • Being old or sick isn't the only reason to accept home care, some people like the extra helping hand around the home

Older woman with her home care support worker
Receiving help at home can give you more time or provide extra assistance to do the things you love. [Source: Shutterstock]

For many older people, home care can be the difference between staying at home or moving into an aged care.

Understanding how home care works and dispelling any misconceptions around home care can make the transition to accepting home care all the more easier for people looking at it as an option.

Myth: "If I accept home care I'm admitting I can't look after myself"

Accepting that you need help to stay on top of housework, doing the shopping or to look after yourself can be hard and sometimes people think it's a sign of loss of independence. 

Actually, getting home care may not only improve your independence, it can also allow you to stay at home for longer.

Help at home shouldn't be looked at as a "loss of capacity" but as a tool to improve your life and foster independence.

So why not get some assistance with the hard jobs in the garden like pruning and weeding, or support to carry heavy shopping bags around. Accepting help at home can be the next step towards a more comfortable life at home and in your community.

Additionally, you are the one that gets to decide how much home care help you receive. If you only need basic garden or home assistance, then that's what you can ask for. However, if you have higher care needs, then that can be accommodated as well.

Home care will work around your schedule and make sure you can live the life you want to lead. Now that sounds like independence!

Myth: "My family takes care of me, I don't need someone else"

If you have family helping you out, no doubt they will be happy to assist you because they love you and want the best for you. But wouldn't you rather spend some quality time with your child when they come over, chatting over a cup of tea and a biscuit, instead of them being busy doing household chores?  

It may also be difficult lining up your commitments outside the commitments of your family, which is where an extra helping hand at home can really be beneficial.

Getting home support services to help you with the chores instead will mean that when a loved one comes for a visit you can make the most of your time together and enjoy each other's company or bond over activities you like doing together. 

Home care professionals can give you full freedom to live life how you want to, like visiting the shops, going to doctors appointments, or getting assistance to see friends at social events.

They are trained workers who will look after you, even if you need help with something that you're uncomfortable about or that you don't want your family to see, like helping you use the bathroom or shower, or helping you dress.

If your family still wants to be involved in your care, they can! A home care provider can sit down with you to figure out how to align your schedules so you are receiving assistance across the board.

It gives you the reassurance that you will have help when you need it, whether that be your home care provider or your family.

Myth: "Only really old people need home care and I am not that old!"

Do you know many older people believe they feel younger than they are? While it may be true that you look and feel young, you may not realise how much you could benefit from help at home.

A lot of people put off accepting home care because they believe they aren't old enough to accept it.

You might not even realise that everyday struggles you are having at home is actually a reason for extra help. Many people who accept home care aren't even sick or very frail, they just enjoy the company and extra assistance around the home.

The sooner you start receiving home care, the sooner your life at home will be all the more easier.

Myth: "Home care doesn't work for people with dementia or people with high care needs"

Home care is a great option for people with dementia. An aged care provider may have more procedures in place and the capacity to take care of older people with dementia, however, living in a familiar place can be a great comfort to a person with dementia.

Home care providers already develop specific home care plans for their clients, the same can be done for a person with dementia. It just means there will be more considerations to take into account to make sure the person with dementia is safe and secure in their home.

There has been a large rise in technology that can be used in the home to monitor the movements of people with dementia. It allows for them to live freely but have the safety precautions in place in case they don't follow their normal routine or wander out of their home.

For people with higher care needs, most providers can provide 24/7 home care to older people who require it. All Home Care Packages (HCPs) are the same, but the higher the level, the more hours of care you can receive.

All Home Care Packages are tailored towards the person who is receiving it. If a person requires a high level of care, then this can be accommodated.

Accepting home care for high care needs means you won't need to move into aged care for the time being.

Talk to the home care providers you are considering about options for a person with dementia or someone with high care needs, and how the provider would manage care at home.

Myth: "Home care can be expensive"

Similar to myths about residential aged care, people believe that home care services can be expensive. However, as most home care providers are Government funded, you may find it cheaper than you would expect.

The cost of home care can vary depending on the service you choose and the level of care you are receiving. You pay less for home care if you're on the Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP) than for services delivered under a level 3 HCP.

You can organise with your home care provider what services you wish to receive to fit your needs.

The higher the level of your HCP, the more funding you will receive from the Federal Government. 

The Government expects you to contribute to your home care services or package if you can afford to. 

If your income is higher than the Age Pension, you will be required to pay extra for the services.

The maximum a provider can ask you to pay above the basic daily fee is up to 50 percent of your income above the Age Pension.

What myths would you like debunked about home care? Tell us in the comments below.

Related content:

When should I consider help at home?
How to have “the home care talk” with your parents

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