Home care is available in Australia to seniors who require support to live well and safely without relocating to a full-time care facility.
If you or a loved one are struggling with everyday life, take a look at the steps to accessing a Home Care Package and information involved to sign up for one.
Five steps to access a Home Care Package
It can take time to access a home care package because you need to apply and then wait for availability. The following steps help to explain the process:
If an individual is over the age of 65 and requires support to live comfortably at home, the first step is to check eligibility using the My Aged Care’s eligibility checker. This will let them know if they can apply for an aged care assessment (referred to as an ACAT).
From here, an assessor will visit to ask questions about mobility, health and well-being, etc. They will then confirm in writing if the individual is eligible for a home care package and help them start the process to access the care they require.
The assessor is usually a nurse, health care professional or social worker. They may want to talk to the person in question’s doctor or ask questions about their medical history. Any information shared will be confidential.
Find a Home Care Package provider
The next step is to find a suitable home care package provider.
The provider chosen will depend on the individual’s needs, budget, location and whether they prefer to self-manage their care, have care managed by the provider or have a combination of both.
It is recommended to speak with a few different providers to figure out which one is most suitable.
Finding a home care package provider will also depend on availability. Some providers have longer wait lists than others.
Looking for home care package providers? Use our tool to get a customised options report o providers near you.
Work out the costs
Aged care is designed to be accessible for all Australians and the costs are subsidised by the Government. However, if someone can afford to pay because their assets and income exceed a predetermined threshold, they will be expected to contribute to the cost of their care.
Home care fees are broken down into:
- a basic daily fee that is paid by all individuals, including pensioners
- an income-tested care fee (which will depend on your income and the value of your assets)
Fees eligibility for subsidies will be discussed and agreed upon before signing on with a home care package provider. To gain an idea of how much a home care may cost, use My Aged Care’s fee estimator.
Accept a Home Care Package
After finding a provider and determining the costs, the next step is to enter into a Home Care Agreement with a provider. This will outline:
- which services will be provided
- how services will be managed and coordinated
- a schedule for carers (e.g. daily, weekly, every second day etc, and at what times)
- the costs involved
Because a home care package is tailored, the individual will have the chance to discuss their requirements with the provider, who will supply a copy of their care plan before the service commences.
Begin your services
A home care package starts on the day a Home Care Agreement is signed. Carers and service providers to visit according to a schedule and monthly statements will be supplied to show how funds are spent.
A care plan and the according individualised budget cannot be changed without both parties agreeing, however, if care needs change and different care and services are required, a review can be arranged, and the package level can be upgraded.
How do I choose a Home Care Package provider?
My Aged Care suggests a list of criteria to use when meeting with service providers:
- Common services
- Specialised services
- Diverse needs
My Aged Care also has an extensive list of questions to take with you when you interview a provider.
See more: Choosing a home care provider.
How do you self-manage your Home Care Package?
Self-managing a home care package, puts all the control in the hands of the recipient. The advantage is that more funds can be allocated to care (when a provider manages the care, they use some of the funding to pay for this service).
Someone who self-manages a home care package needs to take care of everything from budgeting to organising providers and carers.
Anyone self-managing will be expected to:
- establish and manage their home care budget
- coordinate and schedule services and workers
- prepare invoices and monthly statements
- Ensure that they comply with compliance, regulatory and assurance activities
Seniors who self-manage often do so with the help of a family member.
I’m not eligible for a Home Care Package, what can I do?
If someone isn’t eligible for a Home Care Package, they will be notified by mail after completing their assessment. The letter should provide an indication of what to do next.
- Considering non-government funded aged care services
- Looking into funding through the National Disability and Insurance Scheme (NDIS), if you are under the age of 65
Anyone who is not happy with the result of their assessment can discuss the matter with their assessor or contact My Aged Care through their online contact tool or by telephone on 1800 200 422 for a free review of the situation.
The other alternative to home care is residential aged care. This may be the solution when even regular visits from qualified carers do not meet the well-being needs of the individual.
Need help to find a home care package provider near you? Compare the best in-home services for free with the help of Aged Care Decisions.
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What are an aged care provider’s responsibilities in relation to the Code of Conduct?
It is the responsibility of approved aged care providers to treat those in their care in a manner consistent with the Code. Along with this, they are also expected to ensure that other workers in their field including governing persons do the same.
According to the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission, an aged care provider’s duties may include:
- providing training
- making sure policies and procedures are easily accessible
- taking action to make sure to meet the Code
What can the Commission do?
As the body responsible for governing the Code, the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission are responsible for maintaining and enforcing the code.
If the commission has reason to believe a party is failing to comply with the Code, they have the power to take action.
While there are protections implemented to allow any individual accused of breaching the Code the opportunity to respond, enforcement actions may be severe.
The Commission has been granted a range of actions all the way up to banning a current or former aged care worker from working in aged care again. They may even revoke Code-Approved status from a provider that fails to comply.
Why is a Code of Conduct important for a care worker?
The Code is very important to care workers for several reasons.
First, it is the standard to which they must adhere. It outlines the minimum quality of care and standard of behaviour that they must reach.
Next, if they do not comply with the Code, there may be disciplinary consequences. All aged care workers need to be aware of the Code and their expected level of performance or face possible banning from the industry.
What is the difference between the Code of Conduct and the Code of Practice in aged care?
In 2021, the Aged Care Workforce Industry Council launched the Voluntary Industry Code of Practice.
While the Code of Practice and the Code of Conduct have a lot of crossovers, there are a few differences.
The main difference is that the Code of Practice is voluntary. While being approved by the Code of Practice is a positive sign for an aged care facility, a lack of Code of Practice approval does not mean the facility is not still high quality. Non-compliance with the Code of Conduct, on the other hand, is a very bad sign.
All the same, the Code of Practice is another sign of an industry that is working hard to be the very best for those vulnerable elderly Australians in their care.
Looking for a quality aged care service provider in your area? Aged Care Decisions provides assistance to families at every stage of the aged care or home care journey. We work with over 1200 facilities and assist thousands of families every month, 100% free of charge for families.