If you’re an older Australian, you can apply for funding via a Home Care Package from the Federal Government which can help you remain safe and independent. The package goes towards the costs of services provided to you to help you live independently. Here, we provide four key steps that you need to follow in applying for a Home Care Package. We also give you a brief rundown of the funds you may be entitled to in your package.
Step 1: Telephone assessment
The Federal Government’s, www.myagedcare.gov.au is your first port of call when looking to access a Home Care Package. You can have a look around at the helpful information and then reach out via phone on 1800 200 422. The operator will take you through a quick screening in order to assess your needs and based on that assessment, they will determine your eligibility.
- Entry-level support needs: If you currently only require entry-level support such as Meals on Wheels or having someone drive you to medical appointments, grocery shopping and community events, a Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHSP) may be appropriate, so you’ll be referred to a Regional Assessment Service.
- More complex support needs: If your needs are more complex or you have a range of support needs and/or require ongoing care, you may additionally need help with showering, mobility and medications plus support from allied health professionals. In this case, you’ll be referred to the Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT) for a more detailed assessment.
HomeMade will work with you to formulate a care plan and budget that’s right for you.
Step 2: ACAT assessment
Conducted in your own home or virtually by a member of your local ACAT – a social worker, nurse or other health care professional – your ACAT assessment is a meeting that will help to determine your eligibility for a Home Care Package. You are most welcome to have a member of your family, a friend or a carer at the meeting for your comfort and to help you answer the questions.
The ACAT person will chat with you about how you’re managing on a daily basis and might need to talk to your GP about your medical history, with your permission, of course. Depending on the level of support that you require, it might be found that you need respite care, transition care or permanent placement in a residential aged care home.
You’ll also be given information about what services can be offered to you and you’ll have an opportunity to think about which you’d like to receive.
Terminology check-in: Being approved for and being allocated a Home Care Package are two different things. Once you have had your initial ACAT assessment, you will learn whether you have been approved as eligible to receive a Home Care Package. Following that, you will be placed in the national queue to wait until a HCP becomes available. When it does, it will be allocated to you.
Step 3: Being allocated a Home Care Package
If the ACAT assessor determines that you are eligible to receive home care, you’ll be allocated a Home Care Package. There are four levels, graded according to support needs. Currently, in Australia, there is a shortage of Home Care Packages so even if you are deemed eligible, you may have to be placed on a waiting list.
When your package does commence, you’ll need to find a provider who can administer the package funds for you, which typically involves a fee. Some charge as low as 15 percent while others base their fees on tiered levels of case management. That means you may pay more or less according to how much support you need to organise the services you receive.
You are always free to switch providers if you don’t feel you are getting the best value for your money.
Funding and fees
How much funding you receive for your care depends on the level of Home Care Package for which you are approved. You can see the latest funding amounts here.
Income-tested care fee
You may also be required to pay an additional income-tested care fee, calculated by the Department of Human Services, based on your annual income. Full pensions are not required to pay this fee.
The income tested care fee is indexed on 20 March and 20 September every year and is managed by Services Australia.
You can read more about fees and package costs by referring to the MyAgedCare website.
Note: If your financial situation changes while you are receiving care, your income-tested care fee may also change accordingly.
Other contributions you may be required to pay
Depending on your level of income, you may be asked to contribute to your Home Care Package if you can afford it. This is called a ‘basic daily fee’. If you can’t, then the fees may be able to be waived or reduced but you will need to apply for financial hardship.
Step 4: Selecting your Home Care Package services
Once you’ve been approved for a Home Care Package, you will be able to decide who will deliver the services. If you go with a traditional aged care provider, they will make the decisions for you around the kinds of services you receive and they will send support workers from their rostered workforce.
Alternatively, you may prefer to go with Consumer Directed Care through an organisation that connects you with independent support workers. You can choose the services you need and whom you invite into your home to provide them. You even get to negotiate the fees you pay for those services.
HomeMade will work with you to formulate a care plan and budget that’s right for you. Have a chat with them about choosing a platform such as Mable which enables you to select and hire your support workers directly, instead of through a traditional type of agency that may send a different person each time. You’ll also find that the hourly cost of your care is lower, so you get more bang for your support buck.