Home care services can help you to live independently at home for longer
You need to be assessed to receive Government funded home care
There may be a wait for a home care package and there may also be some costs involved for you, depending on your financial situation
What is home care?
Home care refers to any services provided to keep you living healthily and safely in your own home in the community, as well as engaging in social activities.
Government funded home care is available at different levels, beginning with a Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP) for basic needs and ranging up to a Level 4 Home Care Package (HCP) for high support needs.
The types of services which you can access through home care include:
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
Counselling and support
Fitness and rehabilitation
Allied health support such as podiatry or occupational therapy
After hospital care
Goods and equipment such as mobility aids
Social support and other activities
Nursing care such as changing dressings on wounds
End of life care at home
Each CHSP and HCP is tailored to the individual with the specific supports you need to live well at home and you can choose whether to manage it yourself or have someone manage the funding on your behalf.
When to consider care
Be aware that changes in your ability to do everyday tasks can happen very gradually, so keep an eye out for any signs you might need some extra help around your home.
The changes to look for include simple daily tasks like the laundry or cooking meals becoming overwhelming, your living space becoming less tidy, your appearance becoming less tidy, forgetfulness - particularly with medication and meals, or avoiding social contact.
Sometimes these changes are not picked up and it takes a bigger event for you to realise you may benefit from home care.
You should seek home care immediately if you have a fall due to reduced mobility, lose your driver’s licence, forget where you are and how to get home, have a medical procedure requiring temporary care or a hospital stay, or have no support network close by to help you.
Questions to ask when considering home care
You might like to start thinking about home care by asking yourself these questions, and being honest with yourself about the answers:
What do you need help with?
Do you have any health or safety concerns?
What care does your family and support network give, and what care are they unable to give?
What are your goals for the next few years?
Do you regularly feel lonely or isolated?
Would your needs be better met with home care or aged care?
Is your home safe enough for you to live in? Do you need modifications for your mobility?
Are you expecting your needs to increase significantly in the next year?
To receive Government funded home care you will need to register with My Aged Care and be assessed by the Regional Assessment Service for the CHSP or the Aged Care Assessment Team, also known as ACAT (called the Aged Care Assessment Service or ACAS in Victoria only) for a HCP.
A member of the team, which may include a doctor, nurse, social worker, or other health professional, will meet with you to assess your care needs and how well you are managing at home.
They will identify the right services for your needs and the level of care you require, then give you a letter stating the types of subsidised services you have been approved for and might also put you in contact with local providers.
For more information about assessment visit our article on assessment and eligibility for aged care services.
Waiting for home care
After you are assessed for a HCP you will be placed on a waiting list until a package becomes available, which may only take a few weeks but could be up to nine to 12 months.
While you wait for your package you may be able to receive assistance through the CHSP to have some temporary services put in place, as access to CHSP is a much quicker process.
The other option is to ask for an interim package, which is a lower level HCP than what you are assessed for and provides supports while you wait for your higher level care. There is a wait time for interim packages as well, but it is generally three to six months.
Private home care services which are not funded by the Government could also be available to you while you wait for a HCP, depending on what you can afford, and can be accessed straight away.
You can talk about these options with your ACAT or ACAS assessor, and more information about waiting for a HCP can be found here.
Costs of home care
The Government subsidises the cost of services provided under HCPs and CHSPs, but how much funding support you receive depends on your income and assets.
The Government provides guidelines around the cost of home care but different providers charge different rates and fees for additional services.
You might also be required to fund part of your care, more information about the costs of home care and Government subsidy can be read in our online guide.
What else do you want to know about home care? Tell us in the comments below.
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