Home care assistance is an important factor in helping older Australians stay at home and remain independent for longer. Receiving support at home can delay and sometimes even prevent the need for moving into a residential care facility.
The Australian Government has various subsidises for home care assistance programs to help make them more affordable. The two main Government-subsidised home care assistance programs available are Home Care Packages (HCP) and the Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP).
What are Home Care Packages?
Home Care Packages (HCP) are one of the ways that affordable care and support services can be delivered in the home. HCP are designed to allow elderly Australians access to extra support so they can live in their homes longer.
A Home Care Package works by the Government subsidising a set amount of money for care services, which is determined by your level of care need. These funds are then paid to an approved provider of your choice. You and the provider work together to decide how best to spend the money and coordinate the services you need.
There are four levels of Home Care Packages, each with a different level of funding. Depending on the level of care you are assessed for, the services you may receive as part of the package vary. Packages cover everything from basic needs through to high care needs. Your home care provider will work with you to decide on the most appropriate ways to spend your Package funding, for the type of care services you need.
The home care services delivered through a Home Care Package provide a consumer-directed care approach, tailored to individual needs and goals. This means that you have choice and control over the types of service you receive, who provides the service and how and when the service is provided.
Learn more about Home Care Packages here.
What is the Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP)?
The CHSP is an entry-level home support program for elderly Australians who are finding everyday tasks more difficult and could benefit from a little support. The program aims to establish the right amount of support to ensure your needs are met and work with you to maintain your independence. Along with supporting independence and helping you to stay safe in your own home, the CHSP assists individuals with staying socially active and connected with their community.
Community respite is also provided under the CHSP if eligibility criteria are met. Community respite is available during the day, overnight or for the weekend and is aimed at those who need occasional carer support to manage some of their daily tasks and activities. Through a range of planned respite services, the CHSP supports the relationship between you and your carer by allowing carers to take a break from their usual duties.
Learn more about the CHSP here.
Why would I be eligible for the CHSP instead of a Home Care Package?
While entry-level support services are available through the CHSP, Home Care Packages are designed to meet more complex needs.
The CHSP is intended for those who are mostly able to live at home and only require a small amount of support to maintain their independence. Most people accessing the CSHP only use one or two services to help them remain living safely and independently at home. These services can be short term or ongoing, depending on the need.
While the services available are similar for both the CHSP and Home Care Packages, if your needs are more complex and the services you require need to be coordinated and tailored to meet your specific needs, a Home Care Package would be more appropriate as the CHSP may not be able to accommodate this.
To be eligible for both the CHSP and a Home Care Package, you must be 65 years or older (50 years or older for Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people).
A face-to-face assessment is conducted by a member of the Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT) to determine your care needs and your eligibility. Click here to check if you are eligible for an assessment or apply online for an assessment or call My Aged Care on 1800 200 422 to get started.
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What services can I receive as part of a Home Care Package?
There are a range of services available to Home Care Package recipients. While the amount of assistance is determined by the level of the Home Care Package you are assigned, the main categories include services to keep you:
- Wellness and independence (eg. allied health, personal care, nursing services)
- Safety in your home (eg. cleaning, assistive technology, home maintenance and modifications)
- Connection to the community (eg. social support services, transport)
Click here for more detailed information on the services available through a Home Care Package.
As Home Care Package funds are directly linked to your care needs, they cannot be used for more general expenses or costs that are covered by other government schemes. The following expenses are examples of what cannot be paid for with Home Care Package funds:
- Home modifications that are unrelated to your care needs
- Purchasing food (unless to meet enteral feeding requirements)
- Items and services already covered by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme or the Medicare Benefits Schedule
For information about the costs and wait times for Home Care Packages, please see our previous article.
What services can I receive as part of the CHSP?
The entry-level services provided by the CHSP will depend on an individual person’s needs. During a face-to-face assessment in the home, trained RAS (Regional Assessment Services) assessors ask questions and look at how well you manage the various activities in your daily life. This assessment identifies what your needs are and how they might be met to both improve your overall wellbeing and achieve independence. The RAS can also liaise with service providers, community support networks, GPs and specialists on your behalf.
The services they can provide include help with:
- food preparation and pre-made meals (eg. Meals on Wheels)
- showering, self-care and hygiene
- basic household chores and keeping your home and garden safe
- medicines and telehealth support
- a particular condition, like vision impairment or dementia
Through the CHSP, you can access community respite care, health and therapy services (eg. podiatry, occupational therapy), home modifications (eg. rails and ramps) and equipment to help you get around or adapt to your needs (eg. walking frame, shower chair).
The CHSP helps keep you connected with your community through social supports including contact and company with others (eg. social groups) and community transport or transport vouchers to attend appointments or activities.
The services put in place can be short term, episodic or ongoing. CHSP support services must also be reviewed every 12 months to ensure needs are being met.
How do I find providers if I need home care assistance?
Home Care Packages
Home Care Package providers vary in the way they deliver their services and the costs they charge. To choose a provider that best meets your needs, it is important to consider the services they are offering, the standard of care they provide and the expenses you may need to meet.
Aged Care Decisions can help take the guess work out of this process. We are Australia’s first 100% free placement and support service. Using our extensive provider network, we can match you with home care options that suit your location and care needs. Click here or call 1300 775 870 to access our free service.
To find CHSP service providers available near you, you can use the My Aged Care ‘Find a Provider’ tool here. Your RAS assessor can provide you with your referral code(s), (one code for each service you are eligible for) that you then give to your chosen service provider. The service provider uses the code to begin organising services for you.
The RAS can also make a referral directly to a CHSP provider following your assessment and the service provider will get in contact with you.
If you or a loved one need assistance with the aged care journey, Aged Care Decisions is here to help along every step of the way. We are a fast, free and independent service that can provide a customised list of home care options to match your care needs. Our experienced aged care specialists can also answer your questions, offer advice and help find the right aged care provider for you.
To learn more about the CHSP, Home Care Packages or to receive assistance in choosing a home care provider, please click here or call us on 1300 775 870 to access our free service.