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How to get the most from your Home Care Package

In this guide:

The Federal Government provides financial assistance to older Australians so that they can access the support services that enable them to remain living independently in their own homes. This financial assistance is called a Home Care Package (HCP) and is categorised into four different levels according to the level of care an individual requires, as follows:

Level 1 – Basic care
Level 2 – Low care
Level 3 – Intermediate care
Level 4 – High care

Each level of HCP carries a particular funding figure.

Today, more than 235,000 Australians receive Home Care Packages.

Using your Home Care Package – shopping around for the best deal

Once you’ve been allocated a Home Care Package and the funding is flowing, it’s important to know that you have the freedom to choose not just the organisation that hosts it for you but also the organisation from where you access the support workers.

Consumer-Directed Care is an empowering approach to aged care that gives consumers choice in designing their own support plan and to choose which services they receive, when and where they receive them and who delivers them.

But how do you know if you’re getting value from your Home Care Package? Can you pay privately if you’re still waiting for your HCP to be allocated or you want or need more services than what it pays for? Let’s take a look.

How to access a Home Care Package

Your first step is to contact the Federal Government’s My Aged Care service on 1800 200 422. You can also view their website at www.myagedcare.gov.au. The operator will run through an initial assessment with you over the phone and, depending on your responses and needs, you’ll be referred to your local Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT). An ACAT representative will be in touch to arrange a face-to-face meeting in your own home and you can have a family member, friend or carer present with you. You can also request an interpreter to be present if you need one.

At this assessment, the ACAT rep will ask you lots of questions around your living situation, your health, how you are coping on a day-to-day basis and what you need help with. They will also ask your permission to contact your doctor to discuss your medical history.

Your eligibility for a Home Care Package will be determined and you’ll receive a letter stating the outcome and the reasons behind the decision made. If you’ve been approved for a HCP, keep in mind that there is a long waitlist and you could be waiting for between three and twelve months (depending on the level for which you’ve been approved) before your funding begins.

How much funding you could receive depending on your approved level

The level of funding you receive for your care will depend on the level of Home Care Package for which you are approved.  You see the latest funding amounts by clicking here. 

What you must pay towards your Home Care Package

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.

Exit and brokerage fees

Be aware that traditional aged care providers may also charge exit fees if you decide to end your arrangement with them to provide you with support services. They may also charge brokerage fees if you require a service that they don’t usually offer, to cover outsourcing the service for you.

Whether or not to accept a Home Care Package

While the idea of ‘free money’ sounds infinitely appealing, there are pros and cons to accepting a Home Care Package. Once you apply for a Home Care Package and are approved for a certain level, speak with My Aged Care about what you will be expected to pay. You’ll need to weigh up the urgency of your support needs with the fees and administrative considerations of a HCP. If you decide that it’s not sensible to accept funding, you can always choose to pay privately for your support services.

Choosing a provider to administer the HCP funds for you

The government does not pay Home Care Package funding directly to recipients. Instead, they pay it to an approved package host who will charge a fee for their services. In the past, some hosts have charged as much as 50 percent of a total Home Care Package, leaving the recipient with very little in terms of support. As a consumer, you are entitled to choose your package host. Shop around and you should be able to find hosts that charge as little as ten percent.

Self-managing your own support needs

After choosing your package host, the next step is to develop a tailored plan around your funding. Home Care Packages are ‘consumer-directed’ which means you get to make your own choices regarding the kind of care and services you receive and who you would like to deliver them.

It’s important to note that providers may additionally charge Case Management fees and Core Advisory fees which can mount up quickly and erode into what you can spend on support services. Be sure to ask about these fees when selecting a provider so that you can be assured of full transparency and make an appropriate decision.

Keep in mind that if your needs are low or you receive support from family or others, your case management requirements may also be low. Some providers are accommodating this and using a tiered model for client advice, offering a range of price points according to how much support is required.

Ultimately, be well informed and make sure you only pay for the advice you need so your Home Care Package funding can cover more hours of support.

Choosing where to access your support

Whether you have decided to pay privately or you have found your package host, it’s now time to consider from where you will access the support you need. With Consumer-Directed Care, you have the freedom to choose who comes into your home, instead of accepting who a traditional aged care provider sends to you.

Mable.com.au has more than 10,000 independent support workers on its website, right across Australia. It is the country’s number one online marketplace for self-directed care and support. Consumers simply search the support worker profiles or place an ad and they can connect with those they prefer based on personality, services offered, hours available and more.

By asking your package host to support you in choosing your own support workers from Mable, you can receive significantly more hours of care for your Home Care Package funding every week. In fact, some clients who use the Mable website have found that they can receive double the number of hours of care each week than they could with a traditional aged care provider.

Compared with traditional agency-style providers, Mable has a low-overhead model which is managed entirely online. As a result, consumers pay less and support workers earn more.

Start searching for independent support workers in your area today and enjoy being in control of your own support needs.

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