Australians are very lucky in the sense that many of us are able to continue living at the comfort of our own home and care for ourselves independently when we get older.
This means it is not just automatically nursing home or aged-care facility options for us – we get to stay at home for as long as we want, for as long as circumstances allow.
And for that, we have the Home Care Packages Program to thank for.
What Is A Home Care Package?
Briefly speaking, the Home Care Package is a government-supported program that subsidizes in-home aged care services that an elderly choose, as well as services that help them stay connected with the community.
It is consumer-directed, meaning an elderly can choose the provider they want and the care they need to continue living life independently (and with quality) at their own home.
The Home Care Package consists of 4 levels altogether – Level 1 covers the most basic care needs, and expand to higher care needs as we go up the levels.
How Does It Work?
Firstly, do not misunderstand the Package as one where cash will be handed to you directly. It doesn’t work like that.
Rather, a fixed amount of money will be allocated by the federal government in the form of a code, of which an elderly can take to an approved service provider of their choice.
The latter will then work with them to decide how the money is going to be spent i.e. choosing services that will enable them to continue living independently at their home.
Now, the amount allocated to each individual will not be the same for everyone. Rather, it depends on the individual’s needs (how much support s/he needs to keep living independently), which will be assessed by an independent assessment agency.
Remember the 4 levels of care that we talked about just now? Each level actually has a set amount of government funding allocated which as of 1 July 2023, is as follows:
|Package Level||Service and Annual Subsidy|
|Level 1||Basic care needs – $10,271.10 p/a|
|Level 2||Low care needs – $18,063.85 p/a|
|Level 3||Intermediate care needs – $39,310.50 p/a|
|Level 4||High care needs – $59,593.55 p/a|
So how much funds an individual will receive will depend on which level of service s/he is approved for. Again, they do not go straight into your pocket – they are paid directly to the provider(s) you choose.
You do have the flexibility to allocate the funds in your package however you choose though. Different providers charge differently for the same services so do make sure you shop around to get the most comprehensive services for the same home care level.
What Services are Included in Home Care Packages?
Depending on the level of Home Care Package you receive, you can get assistance with a range of different services:
- Podiatry, physiotherapy and other therapies
- Bathing, hygiene and grooming
- Meals and food preparation
- Help with impairment or continence
- Cleaning, laundry and other chores
- Home or garden maintenance
- Minor home modifications
- Aids to stay independent
- Social outings, groups and visitors
- Clinical care (i.e. nursing, allied health, physiotherapy services)
In short, we can group them into four types of care – Health and Nursing Care, Personal Care, Home Maintenance and Social Care. You can mix and match any of these services into your Home Care Package – it’s just that flexible.
At all times, you should work out with your provider if a particular care or service you need:
- is directly linked to your identified care needs and goals
- will improve your health and wellbeing
- is necessary for you to remain living safely and independently in your home
- can be delivered within your Home Care Package budget, and
- would be considered an acceptable use of government funds.
Regarding the last point, it is worthy to note that certain care and services are not qualified for funding from the Home Care Package. This generally includes anything that one would normally purchase out of one’s income, i.e.
- Mortgage repayments / rent
- Entertainment activities i.e. club memberships or tickets to events
- Holiday trips (health-related retreat could be included)
- Any fees or charges that are already funded by the government (e.g. services covered by the Medicare Benefits Schedule)
Now that you have a rather comprehensive understanding of the whole Home Care Package, do you see how it can help your loved one stay at home longer?
Be it minor help around household chores or keeping tabs with personal hygiene and care, to having a nurse or specialist (e.g. podiatrist or occupational therapist) visiting regularly to provide skin and wound care or ongoing care for chronic conditions, these services are readily available through the Home Care Package.
You do not have to send your loved one to a nursing home or residential aged-care facility. Instead, they can continue living at home and maintain their life as usual (and as normal as possible) even though their health may have declined already. And you can get on with your life with peace of mind and not have to feel guilty every time you need to leave them alone – because you know they are safe in good hands.
If this seems to be what you’re looking for your loved one, we suggest getting in touch with the My Aged Care as soon as possible because it takes time to be assessed and approved. The waiting time varies (ranging between 3-12 months) but if your loved one is deemed high risk of absolute crisis without support, they will then be given higher priority and would receive a package sooner.
If you wish to understand more about the Home Care Package before you take any further action or if you would like to just discuss this in person, we welcome you to contact us any time. It would be our ultimate delight and pleasure to answer any of your queries.