So, you have been approved for a Home Care Package (HCP). That’s great!
But you were also just been told that you are on the waiting list.
What does that mean and what can you do in the meantime while you wait for your HCP?
Home Care Package and their Waiting Time
Remember when we said here that you have to act fast if you wish to apply for a HCP because there is a wait list (which can go as long as 12 months, or more)?
Yes, all available HCPs are actually held in a national “pool”. They are to be distributed accordingly based on three things: priority, an individual’s personal needs and how long one has been in the queue waiting for care.
For example, if a person is assessed to be “high priority”, that is, they would be at high risk of absolute crisis without support, then s/he will be deemed as having the highest needs and therefore should receive a package sooner.
The thing is, the number of Australians who want to stay at home as they age is, well, plenty. The demand for HCPs are therefore very high, which means it may take some time before you can even begin accessing the benefits of your HCP, unfortunately.
So although you have been assessed as eligible and are approved for a package, you will still be placed in a queue before a HCP is allocated to you.
The estimated wait time is between 9-12 months for a Level 2, 3 or 4 HCP but the good news is, the Government has recently invested in more HCPSs in the 2021/22 Budget. 40,000 HCPs have been released in 2021-22 with another 40,000 more releasing in 2022-23, so this will greatly reduce the wait time.
Nevertheless, there is still about a year away before all these are fully rolled out. So what can you do while you wait in the queue for your supports? Are there any other options to consider while you wait for your turn?
Your Options While Waiting for A Home Care Package
Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP)
This is perhaps the very first option many go for if they want to have some form of temporary services put in place while waiting for a HCP.
The services offered under CHSP are much more limited though. That is, one can only expect entry-level type of home care assistance such as garden and home maintenance assistance, home cleaning, food preparation, basic personal care and nursing services etc.
Unlike a HCP, you do not get to control how the money is spent nor do you see how much money you can access. You may need to pay for some of the services even, but rest assured that this will be heavily subsidised by the Government.
The good thing with CHSP is that it is a much quicker process than a HCP so you will be able to get help in some form of way while you wait for your HCP.
Another route many go for is to take up a lower level HCP than what they were assessed for while they wait. Also known as an interim package, this is only available for people requiring a Level 2, 3 or 4 HCP.
That is, if one is available. Yes, interim packages also have a wait time, unfortunately. Nevertheless, the good thing with it is that you will not lose your place in the waiting list for your approved HCP package level even if you accept an interim package.
That means if you do manage to get access to an interim package, you can access services sooner rather than wait until your level package becomes available. When it is finally your turn in the queue, just switch to your approved HCP level without delay.
Still worthy to give it a try in our opinion.
Speak to Your GP
This may seem like a no brainer, but a lot of people actually do not know that there may be some services available through their GP as they wait for a HCP.
One is the Chronic Disease Management (CDM) program. This is something a GP can recommend and arrange for older Australians who have complex care or chronic conditions.
There isn’t a particular list of “eligibility” conditions that you need to meet but you do have to have the condition for over six months. Some common conditions include asthma, stroke, cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease etc. If successful, you get to access 5 free/fully-covered visits to an allied health professional for your ailment.
Other things that a GP may be able to help include connecting you with Community supports and volunteer organisations in your area, or even things as minor as requesting for half-price taxis.
Pay for Your Home Care
This is perhaps the least favourite for many, but you can choose to pay for the services you require through private home care i.e. non-Government funded providers.
The downside of this is of course you have to pay for the services you want, however, it also means there is no need to worry about assessments or waiting lists whatsoever – you can get the type of care you want straight away.
You can still be in the queue for your HCP. When you do finally receive it, you can continue with your private home care in the form of “topping up” for services that you are not eligible to receive through HCP.
If you require assistance right away and if you can afford it, we think paying for private home care is not too bad an option to go for while you wait for your HCP.
Last but not least, if you do not mind just waiting for your package or are not in a hurry for your HCP, then one useful thing you can do while you wait is to take this time to research your service providers.
Shortlist a few that you are interested in and visit them to explore the costs of home care and services that are available. This way, when it is finally your turn in the queue, you are well prepared to dive straight into coming up with your care plan without delay.