Home care supports older Australians by providing the practical help they need to continue living safely, happily and independently at home.
This article will help you understand what home care is, what Home Care Packages are and how to choose a home care provider to suit your needs.
What is home care?
Home care is provided to help older Australians to remain living in their own homes for as long as possible. Service providers come to the home to complete tasks such as cleaning, maintenance, personal care and daily tasks that the home care recipient may find difficult to do for themselves at home.
The Australian Government provides funding for these services via Home Care Packages. This funding covers (or partly covers) the cost of a coordinated mix of services that can include:
- Bathing, hygiene, and grooming
- Wound dressing
- Meals and food preparation
- Help with impairments or continence
- Cleaning, laundry, and other chores
- Home or garden maintenance
- Changes to the home (to help with mobility)
- Aids to stay independent
- Transport to an appointment and social outings
Home care may also include visits from a podiatrist, physiotherapist or other health services provider.
Who is eligible for a Home Care Package in Australia?
All Australians 65 years and older (50 years or older for Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people) are eligible to apply for a Home Care Package.
An individual might be eligible and in need of home care if they:
- noticed a change in what they can do or remember
- have been diagnosed with a medical condition or have reduced mobility, to the point where they need support to complete daily tasks
- have experienced a change in family care arrangements, or
- have experienced a recent fall or hospital admission
To quickly check your eligibility for a Home Care Package, use My Aged Care’s online Assessment Eligibility Checker.
What Home Care Packages are available in Australia?
There are four levels of Home Care Packages available for older Australians, depending on the needs of the individual:
- Level 1: At this level, funding is provided to cover basic needs which generally allows an individual to receive a few visits a week from qualified carers.
- Level 2: Level two funding will cover a slightly higher level of care with more frequent visits.
- Level 3: The third level supports seniors with higher needs. At this level, there is enough funding to allow carers to visit most days of the week, often helping with things like showering, grooming and administering medical treatments.
- Level 4: The highest level provides for eligible Australians with high-level needs. Home Care funded by a level 4 Package will normally involve everyday visits from a care worker or a nurse.
How do I get assessed for a Home Care Package?
During the early stages of organising home care for an older Australian, an assessment is carried out to ascertain the appropriate level of care. Once the assessment (referred to as an ACAT) is complete, the individual (usually with the help of their family or a case manager) will need to choose a Home Care Package Provider.
How to choose a Home Care Package Provider
It always helps to work with an approved Home Care Package Provider near you. One way to find out which organisations are available is to request a customised options report of Home Care Package Providers from Aged Care Decisions.
Once you have a list of Home Care Package Providers, you can start to narrow it down. Some considerations to take into account are as follows:
- Availability – Make sure the Home Care Package Provider has the staffing and resource capacity to accommodate the care you require. An important question to ask is when they will be able to commence the care.
- Cost – Not all Home Care Package Providers apply the same fees and charges. You will need to find a provider that supplies the required services within your budget.
- Common services – Make sure your Home Care Package Provider offers all the services you are eligible/looking for, e.g., home maintenance, personal grooming support, transport etc.
- Specialised services – If you or your loved one have specific needs in terms of care, check to confirm if they can be met by the provider.
- Diverse needs – Many Australians don’t speak English as a first language. If this is the case for you or your loved one, you may be able to find a Home Care Package Provider that offers services in languages other than English.
- Quality – Confirm that your provider meets the Aged Care Quality Standards for Australia.
To get started, click the link below:
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Get a customised list of aged care options
How to prepare for your meeting with a potential Home Care Package Provider
Once you have created a shortlist of Home Care Package Providers near you, you can contact them, confirm they meet the criteria above and arrange a meeting or phone call.
When you meet a potential Home Care Package Provider, have a copy of your Home Care Package approval letter and support plan with you so you can discuss your needs. My Aged Care also recommends you have a copy of your income assessment/means test outcome if you have one.
Before the meeting, write down any questions you want to ask to make sure you don’t forget anything. You could even check out My Aged Care’s list of recommended questions.
Who can be present at the meeting?
With the amount of information you will receive during the initial meeting with a Home Care Package Provider, it ideal to have someone with you. Many people opt to invite a family member, friend or carer along to help you capture and process all the details.
If you don’t have anyone to help you, you can apply for advocacy support through My Aged Care.
Which Home Care Package Provider is right for you?
The best Home Care Package Providers tick a few boxes. They will:
- Be located nearby
- Provide the required services
- Charge fees that are within budget
- Have availability
Most importantly, they will also have carers that you or your loved one feel comfortable having in a home.
Some questions to ask include:
- How long has the home care provider been operating?
- Is there a dedicated Care Manager?
- Do exit fees apply?
- How much notice is required in the event of needing to switch providers?
- How often will they review home care plans and services?
- Do they have an understanding of and experiences with supporting people from different cultures and backgrounds? (if applicable)
- What checks do they complete to ensure the quality of service?
- How do they handle complaints?
How do home care costs and fees work?
Fees and costs differ between every home care provider.
They will also vary depending on the services required and whether or not the home care package is self-managed.
The best way to initially estimate the amount you might need to pay for home care is to use the fee estimator on the My Aged Care website.
Do Home Care Package Providers have checks to make sure you are being provided with quality service?
All Home Care Package Providers are regularly reviewed by relevant bodies to make sure they meet Australian standards.
To begin with, providers must be certified with the Aged Care Quality Standards. Some providers also have their staff carry out police and other clearance checks so that you can be sure that their workers are reliable and caring.
Managing your home care services
There are three options for managing your home care service:
Some providers allow for self-management, which gives an individual more control over the way their funds are spent. This option does create a lot more work as finances need to be managed and tracked, and bills need to be paid.
Often, family members will help with self-management home care because it is too overwhelming for the individual receiving the home care.
With a fully managed Home Care Package, the provider will manage your package on your behalf. It will charge a fee for doing so.
A combination of the two
A combination of self-managed and provider-managed home care can be a flexible option. Combination style management should be negotiated with your provider.
Can you change home care service providers?
An individual is entitled to change service providers at any time.
People change service providers for many reasons including:
- Looking for a better price
- More specific needs
- Wanting to work with different carers
If you have cause to change service providers, you must let your provider know as soon as possible. Some providers will have clauses in their initial contracts stating how much notice is required before leaving.
Home care is an important and necessary service, but it’s crucial that the right decisions are made when it comes to choosing a service provider. Take your time to research providers before making a decision.
Aged Care Decisions’ FREE service helps thousands of families find suitable and available aged care providers.
Our custom-built software, together with our Placement Specialists, can match your location, budget, care needs and personal preferences with available providers that suit your specific needs.
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