Moving into residential aged care isn’t the only option for elderly Australians who find it difficult to comfortably manage daily life tasks on their own.
A Home Care Package can assist you or your loved one to remain independent and receive the support you need to live safely and comfortably at home for as long as you can.
Let’s look at how Home Care Package funds can be used to help you live your best life at home:
How do Home Care Packages work?
The term ‘Home Care Package’ refers to government funding that pays for you to receive help at home.
When daily tasks such as showering, grocery shopping, remembering to take medication, and cleaning become difficult, you or your loved one may be eligible for a Home Care Package.
Home Care Packages are allocated across four levels and are assigned according to need.
The higher your support requirements, the higher the Home Care Package level allocated.
As a recipient of home care, you or your loved one may start at any of the four levels and progress upwards as needs change with subsequent assessments.
The level of services each Home Care Package level can cover will vary depending upon the fees and charges charged by the Home Care Provider you select. Below is a general guide to get you started.
Level one Home Care Packages are for more mobile and able elderly Australians who could nevertheless benefit from help at home. At this level, a Home Care Package will cover the cost of a carer visiting once or twice a week and provide support with basic tasks such as house cleaning and self-care.
Level two Home Care Packages are very similar to level one, only a little more intensive. At this level, a home care provider will send a care worker to visit up to four times a week.
Level three Home Care Packages cater for moderate to high care needs, with clients at this level receiving visits most days of the week.
Level four Home Care Package recipients can expect more intensive and thorough care. A level four Home Care Package will pay for a carer to visit almost every day, and medical assistance is likely to increase.
A simple example of a lower-level Home Care Package may be domestic help once or twice a week and a driver to take you to your regular social commitments or doctor’s appointments. At a higher level, a nurse may visit twice a day to help you get in and out of bed and reapply surgical dressings.
Here is more information about Home Care Packages:
Aged Care Decisions provides a FREE service that can help you find Home Care Package providers in your area, that suit your needs.
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What can Home Care Package funds be used for?
Many older Australians could use a little help with everyday chores and tasks.
A major benefit of Home Care Package allocation is being able to live independently at home without constantly relying on the support of family. Home Care Packages are tailored to cover the costs related to your or your loved one’s specific needs.
Depending on the Home Care Package level you are assigned, services may include any of the following:
|Medical care||Visits from a registered nurse who can provide medical attention for chronic conditions. Service providers can also help with medication management and wound care. The service provider may be a registered nurse or a qualified carer, depending on the duties they perform.|
|Personal care and grooming||Regular visits to assist with personal care and grooming, including showering, shaving, brushing hair and keeping finger/toenails under control.|
|Home administration||Help to keep track of household paperwork, pay bills, and minimise the impact of deteriorating eyesight when completing administrative tasks.|
|Chores and housekeeping||Household cleaning, washing dishes, doing laundry, changing bed linen and general tidying.|
|Garden maintenance||Light gardening tasks that the individual could previously carry out themselves but can no longer do safely. E.g., lawn mowing, weeding of established garden beds and yard clearance where there are issues of safety and access. More extensive gardening is the responsibility of the homeowner.|
|Home maintenance||Minor home maintenance services including minor electrical work and plumbing.|
|Shopping and meal preparation||Assistance with shopping trips and organising transport, which is particularly helpful if driving or catching public transport are no longer safe options. Home carers can also help with meal preparation. In some cases, a Home Care Package may cover the cost of special dietary foods or supplements.|
|Home delivered meals||Many pre-made food service and meal delivery companies partner with Home Care Package providers. Your provider may cover 70% of the cost of home-delivered meals.|
|Travel support||Transport and personal assistance to help a care recipient to shop, visit health practitioners or attend social activities.|
|Goods, equipment, and assistive technology||Practical tools to help cope with functional limitations, such as shower chairs, specialised eating utensils, personal alarms, sensor mats, bed rails, mechanical devices for lifting and modified appliances. Specialised equipment to support mobility and dexterity, such as a pressure-relieving mattress or electrical adjustable or hospital bed.|
|Mobility aids||Walking frames, wheelchairs, lift chairs and mobility scooters can be included if specified in an individual’s care plan.|
|Home modifications||Home modifications can be funded under the HCP Program in clinically justified circumstance that improve safety and accessibility and promote independence. Examples include widening doorways for wheelchair access, removing shower hobs and installing an ambulant toilet.|
|Allied health services||Allied health services such as podiatry, physiotherapy, chiropractic, hydrotherapy, and remedial massage can be included when they are required due to age-related functional decline and these services are not concurrently being funded by another government program.|
|Dementia care||Clients with dementia can receive dementia-specific therapy under a Home Care Package|
|Social support and companionship||Not everyone has the luxury of visiting their elderly parents at home every week, so living independently can become lonely for seniors. Home carers can simply drop in for a cup of tea, to provide companionship and to help a care recipient stay connected in the community. A carer can also research local activities for seniors and organise the appropriate transport to and from these events.|
What’s not included in a Home Care Package?
The following items are not covered by Home Care Package funds:
|Groceries||Groceries are excluded, apart from medically prescribed supplementary food products, and formulas required for enteral feeding.|
|Day-to-day bills||Electricity, water bills, car registration, petrol and other day-to-day expenses are generally excluded.|
|Medications||Medicines are excluded under the HCP Program as the Australian Government already funds a multi–billion–dollar medicine program through the PBS and public hospitals to support patients who cannot afford their medications, including over the counter products. Non-PBS medicines cannot be purchased using Home Care Package funds. Cannabis oil is also excluded.|
|Fees and charges applicable to other government funded care||Home care fees, or payment for services and items covered by the Medicare Benefits Schedule, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme or other government schemes.|
|Home modifications or capital items that are not related to the person’s ageing–related care needs||Modifications for aesthetic reasons, such as more expensive tile choices, heated towel rails or replacement of flooring are excluded. Heating and cooling systems are not covered, nor are significant floor plan changes, or the replacement of water tanks and hot water systems.|
|Household appliances||White goods and household appliances are generally excluded. Exceptions may include a washing machine and dryer in the case of severe and permanent incontinence, or a tipping kettle designed specifically for frailty.|
|Electronics||Laptops, phones, and similar electronics are excluded, as are telephone and internet costs. Exceptions may include the purchase of IT equipment in cases that involve homelessness, medication management, and social isolation.|
|Entertainment expenses||Including club memberships, tickets to events and gambling|
Be sure to clarify what is and is not covered by your package directly with your Home Care Provider.
Extra subsidies and supplements
If you or your loved one could use further help, you may be eligible for subsidies and supplements that provide additional support for people with specific conditions.
Who is eligible for a Home Care Package?
To qualify for a Home Care Package, an individual must be 65 years or older (50 years or older for Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people) and require some help to live independently at home.
A younger person with a disability, dementia or other care needs not met through other specialist services may also be able to qualify for a Home Care Package.
Eligibility is determined based on an assessment that considers health, mobility, and personal circumstances.
My Aged Care’s eligibility checker helps you quickly see whether you meet the requirements for an assessment before you apply.
More information about Home Care Package eligibility can be found here:
How do I apply for a Home Care Package?
To apply for a Home Care Package, you must complete an ACAT assessment.
This assessment is conducted by the Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT) or Aged Care Assessment Service (ACAS) if you are in Victoria. You may hear some people referring to the process itself as an ‘ACAT Test’ or ‘ACAT Assessment.’
A GP can refer you or your loved one for an assessment, or you can contact the Government agency My Aged Care for help.
If you or your loved one are in hospital or rehab, the hospital team can expedite an assessment, so it is best to ask for this whilst still under their care.
The person who conducts an assessment will ask about factors including:
- Living arrangements
- Regular activities and social engagements
- Ability to complete daily tasks and activities around the home.
- Any issues relating to home and personal safety.
- Health status
Your assessor may also talk to your healthcare provider or family to hear their thoughts about the care you require.
If the assessment confirms eligibility for home care, you will be allocated one of four different levels of care.
Here is more information about the ACAT assessment process:
Who pays for home care?
Home Care Packages are a form of Government funding for those who need additional financial support for care at home.
Each level of Home Care Package equates to a different annual amount of money assigned to the recipient. The money is paid directly to a Home Care Provider of your choice, which in turn is allocated to the services you have agreed upon with the Home Care Provider.
Self-funded retirees may be asked to contribute to some of the cost of a Home Care Package.
Any person at any time can pay for home care services privately.
Currently there is a long wait for the assignment of Home Care Packages. If you feel that you or your loved one may soon need support at home, and you would like to have a Home Care Package allocated to you, it’s important to have an assessment as soon as practical so you can take your place in the queue.
This guide to My Aged Care presents more detailed information about how to pay for home care:
How can I find Home Care Providers who can assist me with my Home Care Package?
Aged Care Decisions can help you find Home Care Providers, as well as provide valuable support and professional advice.
We are a FREE and independent service that can help you find Home Care Package providers suit your unique needs.
Home Care Providers pay us a set fee – which is the same for every provider – so we have no reason to recommend one provider over another. Our service is 100% independent, unbiased, and free for families.
Contact Aged Care Decisions now to receive a personalised aged care Options Report – with less stress and hassle, and at no cost to you.