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Options while waiting for a Home Care Package

Last Updated at June 30th 2021
So you have been accepted for a Home Care Package (HCP) and have been advised you are on the waiting list? What next?

Key points:

  • If you are eligible, you may be able to receive temporary access to the Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP) or an interim package

  • Some people utilise private home care providers while they are waiting for their HCP

  • While you are waiting for your package, it can be a good time to look at what providers would best suit your needs once you have access to your HCP

Older woman receiving assistance getting up stairs by her carer
There are a number of options you can consider to access care while you are waiting for your package to become available. [Source: Shutterstock]

Any available HCPs are held in a national 'pool'. Once approved for a package you will be placed in a queue based on priority, personal needs and how long you've been waiting for care, and you will be allocated supports once you get to the front of this queue.

With a lot of demand for HCP unfortunately this means it may take some time before you can begin accessing the benefits of your HCP.

The expected wait time for a HCP is nine to 12 months for a level 2, 3 or 4 HCP (May 2021) with nearly 97,000 people waiting for their turn (December 2020).

The Government recently invested in more HCPs in the 2021/22 Budget - 40,000 will be released in 2021-22 and another 40,000 HCPs will be released in 2022-23 - bringing the available HCPs up to 275,598 by June 2023.

While this will assist in reducing the wait time for a HCP, it will still take two years to fully roll out.

There are a number of options to consider to access care while you are waiting for your package to become available.

Temporary access to the CHSP

You can discuss with your assessor whether there is the option to access assistance through the Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP) to have some temporary services put in place while you wait for your HCP.

Getting access to CHSP is a much quicker process than a HCP. 

The assessor will determine if this option is the best for you, as the CHSP only provides entry level home care assistance. You will need to pay towards some of the services, but the Government will subsidise most of the help you receive.

You can receive low level services for garden and home maintenance assistance, cleaning around the home and food preparation, basic personal care and nursing services, and much more.

Interim package

You may be able to access supports through a lower level HCP than what you were assessed for while you wait. This is known as an interim package and means you can access services sooner, rather than wait until your level package becomes available. 

An interim package is only available for people who require a Level 2, 3 or 4 HCP package. Unfortunately, interim packages do have a wait time as well. 

Currently, the wait times for a level 2 and 3 interim package is three to six months, and a level 4 interim package is over a 12 month wait.

Your ACAT/S assessor should discuss the option of interim packages with you while being assessed.

The good thing is, if you accept an interim package, you will not lose your place in the waiting list for your approved HCP package level.

Pay your own way - Private home care

While you are waiting for your HCP, or even your interim package, you may choose to pay for services you require through non-Government funded providers. 

These are private home care providers that are not regulated or funded by the Federal Government. Learn more about private home care or use our online directory to search for private providers near you.

You will receive the same quality of care through private providers, but it will not be subsidised by the Government, so you will need to pay for these services yourself in full.

Think about whether you can afford private home care and if you require the assistance right away.

As private home care is not funded or regulated by the Government, you do not have to worry about any assessments or waiting lists, you can get care right away.

Once you start receiving your HCP, you don't necessarily have to give up private home care. You could use private home care as a "top up" for services you are not eligible to receive through your HCP.

Talk to your doctor

The best person to talk to about your health issues and what to do is your doctor. There may be some services available through your GP that can provide assistance while you wait for a HCP.

The Chronic Disease Management (CDM) program is available to older Australians who have complex care or chronic conditions.

You can receive five fully-covered sessions with an allied health professional for a range of ailments. This could include conditions like asthma, stroke, cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, musculoskeletal conditions, and more, however, there isn't a list of "eligible" conditions you need to meet.

You do need to have the condition for over six months. The program is for patients who need a structured care approach to recover or manage their illness. 

Your doctor will plan and coordinate the care of these complex conditions through other professionals, like physiotherapists, dietitians, audiologists, podiatrists, psychologists, and other health experts.

You need to be recommended by your doctor for the Chronic Disease Management (CDM) program to receive allied health assistance.

Keep in mind, some providers may not accept this program, so make sure you check that this is fully covered by the allied health provider you approach.

Ask family and friends for help

Your family and friends may already be providing some form of informal care to help you out at home.

Chat with your family and friends about whether they can continue to support you until you have access to your Home Care Package or if there are some additional tasks you need help with.

Urgent needs

If you suddenly have a downturn in health and urgently need the assistance of a Home Care Package, your position in the waiting list could be moved to the top of the list.

While you will always move up on the waiting list from the date you were approved, high priority is given to people who are in more urgent need of a HCP to remain living at home safely and receiving the care they need.

You can ask for a reassessment when your health needs get worse or change, which will help speed up the process of getting access to a HCP.

What else can I do while waiting?

If you would prefer just to wait for your package to be available or are not in a rush for your HCP, then you can use this time to research and visit providers, and to explore the costs of home care.

To search for Home Care Package providers in your area, use the directory on the Aged Care Guide. Or for information about the cost of home care, read our handy guide. Or you may be able to make some small adjustments in your home so you can continue living safely, such as removing clutter and any falls risks, and have emergency plans in place.

I have care in place right now?

If you have organised temporary care for a period of time and can't cancel it once you find out that your package is available, don't worry! You are able to pause your access to your package for a period of time.

This pause can be removed by letting My Aged Care know that you are ready to accept your package. You will not lose your place on the waiting list and will still be based on the date when you were approved for a HCP.

Have we missed an option? What did you do while waiting for your Home Care Package? Tell us in the comments below.

Related content:

How much can home care cost?
Informal home care from family and friends
What is a Home Care Package (HCP)?

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