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Regaining your independence at home

Last Updated at July 23rd 2021
If you have been hospitalised because of a health scare, like a fall or illness, you are likely wanting to get back to the comfort of your own home and continue life as normal.

Key points:

  • There are a number of services available to assist you in rebuilding your independence after an illness or hospital stay

  • These programs are aimed at helping people return home instead of entering aged care facilities sooner than they need to

  • Rebuilding independence programs are subsidised by the Government

An older person receiving help from a carer at home
There are many programs available to help you build your confidence again after an illness or hospital stay. [Source: Shuttestock]

However, you may be worried about how you're going to manage on your own again when you're to stay at home by yourself. You may still feel weak from your illness or you are worried that the incident might happen again. At the same time, you you probably prefer to be home rather than go somewhere else to regain your strength.

Luckily there are a number of services available through the Government to help rebuild your confidence, strength, independence, and skills so you can continue living at home. 

Accessing these services depends on your personal circumstances and the type of assistance you require.

You can even access these services if you just want to develop your skills to assist in looking after yourself.

Transition care

The Transition Care Program is Government funded and designed to improve your independence and confidence after a hospital stay. This program can stop you from entering residential aged care earlier than you need to.

Transition care provides goal-oriented and therapy focused care in your own home or in a non-hospital environment.

The program runs for up to 12 weeks with the option to extend to 18 weeks if you need a little more time to feel comfortable and confident in your own home.

You can receive low intensity therapy through the program, like physiotherapy and occupational therapy, nursing support, or personal care.

Services you can receive include assistance with showering and dressing, eating and eating aids, incontinence management, transport to appointments, and mobility and communication support.

To be eligible for Transition Care, you must be an in-patient at a hospital and be assessed by an Aged Care Assessment Team/Service (ACAT/S).

Short term restorative care

Similar to the Transition Care Program, the Short-Term Restorative Care Programme (STRC) is another Government funded initiative that provides care and services which aim to improve your wellbeing and independence at home.

The focus of the STRC program is around rebuilding and reablement, and improving your confidence and independence.

You do not have to be admitted to hospital to be able to access the benefits of this program.

Reablement is key with this program, the services you receive aim to improve your ability to complete everyday tasks.

For example, if you receive help from your daughter to cook meals for the week, but she has recently moved away and you need some short term assistance with cooking and meal planning, you would be eligible to access the STRC program. They would access your goals and provide the necessary tools and skill reablement to meet those goals.

The program always wants to delay, or avoid, the need for you to enter long term care options.

You can receive this program in a number of settings, like in the home, in the community, in an aged care home, or at a mix of these settings.

Eligibility for the STRC program includes:

  • Slowing down mentally and/or physically

  • Needing help with everyday tasks

  • Want to stay independent at home for longer

Short-Term Restorative Care can be accessed for up to eight weeks, depending on your current needs, and can be accessed twice within a 12 month period.

You cannot access the STRC program if you are currently receiving a Home Care Package, are living in an aged care home, or have received after hospital care through the Transition Care Program in the last six months.

How much will it cost?

Similar to other aged care services, the Australian Government pays towards the cost of these initiatives to help make it more affordable. You will need to contribute towards the care and services if you can afford it.

The Transition Care Program does require an income assessment test. The maximum amount you may be asked to pay for Transition Care changes depends on whether you are receiving care in the community or in an aged care home. It will be calculated as a percentage of the single Age Pension daily rate.

Providers of the STRC program can ask you to pay above the amount paid, in some circumstances, by the Government which you will need to agree to. However, they cannot deny you STRC services if you cannot afford it. There are also caps on how much you can pay, similar to the percentage caps of the Transition Care Program.

Your personal financial circumstances will be taken into account. Additionally, you can talk to your service providers about the care fees involved.

Hospital at Home

Some private providers can help you to access 'Hospital in the Home' services, providing medical treatments you would normally find in a hospital at your home.

Additionally, depending on your State or Territory, they may run programs, similar to the Transition Care program, to help public hospital patients return home.

For instance, if you live in NSW and are a patient at a public hospital, you can access the Hospital in the Home (HITH) program. The program aims to reduce the length of your stay in hospital or help you avoid readmission.

Receiving support to transition back into your home from hospital can be crucial to older people's safety.

Patients and their families can experience challenges navigating the home care sector after a hospital discharge, and it might be a while before you can receive assistance through Government funded support.

Programs like the Transition Care program or the STRC program can help you avoid moving into a nursing home or being readmitted to hospital.

Talk to your hospital discharge planner or social worker if there are any programs or supports you can access that will assist with a smooth transition back to your home.

Have you accessed services to help you rebuild your independence? How did it help? Tell us in the comments below.

Related content:

Do I need transition care?
How short-term restorative care can get you back on track
Benefits of short term respite care

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