What can my home care package funds be used for?

Apr 5, 2022

Elderly Australians don’t necessarily have to move into aged care when they can no longer manage the requirements of daily life on their own. A home care package is an option that assists you or your loved one to live independently and access the support that’s needed to feel safe and comfortable.

Many people don’t understand what’s available in terms of home care after they reach the age of 65, and they’re not clear about what a home care package is. Take a look at a detailed explainer about how this service can help you or your loved one to live well at home. 

This guide answers the following questions: 

  • Who is eligible for a home care package?
  • How do home care packages work?
  • Who pays for home care?
  • Which services are covered by a home care package?
  • What’s not covered by a home care package?

Who is eligible for a home care package?

When daily tasks such as showering, grocery shopping, cleaning and remembering to take medication become difficult, you or your loved one may be eligible for a home care package. 

The term ‘home care package’ refers to funding that pays for you to have help at home.  

The first step to determine eligibility for a home care package is to request an aged care assessment through My Aged Care. The 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
  • Memory
  • 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.

Read more about having an aged care assessment here.  

In Summary: To be eligible for home care, individuals have to be over the age of 65 and have undergone an assessment by an Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT), which confirms they require support to live safely at home. 

How do home care packages work?

Once an assessment is complete, the assessor will recommend one of the four levels of care, depending on you or your loved one’s needs. 

The higher the requirements, the higher the level of care. 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 one package is 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 more basic tasks like house cleaning and self-care.

Level two is 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 is the first level to account for higher needs. Level three clients receive visits most days of the week.

Level four: You can expect more intensive and thorough care at this level. Your home care package will pay for a carer to visit almost every day, and medical assistance is likely to increase.

Once the level of care is determined, the services will be tailored to meet your needs more specifically by the home care provider of your choice. 

In summary: There are four levels of home care packages, which start with less frequent, lighter duties for carers and progress to daily visits from a home care worker. The package you are assigned will depend on your needs.  

Who pays for home care?

Any person at any time can pay for home care services privately. Separate to this, 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.

At the moment, there are long waits to be assigned a Home Care Package. If you feel you or your loved one will need the support of a carer at home in the near future and would like to access funds from a Home Care Package, it’s important to have an assessment as soon as practical so you can take your place in the queue. 

For more information about how to pay for home care, read our guide to My Aged Care, contact us on 1300 775 870 or simply complete this quick and easy form.

In summary: The cost of home care depends on individual circumstances, needs and the provider chosen to provide the care. The costs can be covered privately, or covered in part or in full by a Home Care Package.

 

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Which services can be covered by a home care package?

A home care package will be tailored to cover costs related to your or your loved one’s specific needs. Depending on the level assigned, services may include any of the following:

  • Medical care
  • Paying bills
  • General cleaning and tidying
  • Companionship
  • Meal preparation
  • Grooming and personal needs
  • Shopping and ordering goods online (relevant to care needs)
  • Dementia care
  • Travel support
  • Household organisation 

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. 

The home carer who visits could be a registered nurse or a qualified carer, depending on the duties they perform. 

Take a look at some more information about the different home care services: 

Medical and nursing care

Home care packages can cover the cost of visits from a registered nurse who will provide medical attention for chronic conditions. This type of carer can also help with medication management and wound care. 

A home care provider may be able to arrange visits from allied health practitioners like podiatrists and occupational therapists. 

Clients with dementia can also receive therapy under a home care package. 

A home carer may visit regularly to assist with personal care and grooming. You can request support with showering and tasks like shaving, brushing hair and keeping finger/toenails under control. 

If you or a loved one would like to discuss available services and how they might meet your needs, the Aged Care Decisions team can help. Call us on 1300 775 870 or reach out through our online form.

Other at-home assistance: 

Chores and housekeeping

As mentioned above, a home care package covers the cost of more than medical needs. Many older Australians can begin to struggle with everyday chores and tasks, and home care is a measure to ease this strain. The benefit is being able to live independently at home without constantly relying on the support of family. 

As the level of care needed increases, so can the amount of work done around the home. Support may include household cleaning, doing the dishes, washing clothes, changing bed linen and tidying up.

Bills and paperwork

Home care provides the support required to run a household. 

A home carer can minimise the impact of failing eyesight and difficulty keeping track of expenses by reviewing and helping to pay bills. They can also keep track of paperwork. 

Shopping and meal preparation

You can ask the home care provider to make shopping trips and organise transport. This is ideal once driving or catching public transport are no longer safe options. 

Home carers can also help with meal preparation. 

Mobility

Adjustments to you or your loved one’s home environment should fall under your home care allowance. For instance, a home carer can organise an assessment to be undertaken to determine whether or not support bars in the shower might be beneficial. If so, the cost of installing bars will be taken care of. 

Gardening, maintenance and pets

The exterior of the home can be tended to with the help of funding from a home care package. Services may also include plumbing or electrical repairs, or regular maintenance. 

You can also request support to care for a dog or cat. Services may include walking, grooming and transport to and from vet appointments. 

Social health

Perhaps one of the essential benefits of home care is company and companionship. Not everyone has the luxury of visiting their elderly parents at home every week, so living independently can become lonely for seniors. A home care package could include someone dropping by for a cup of tea. This can go a long way to reduce feelings of isolation. 

In addition, a home carer can research local activities for seniors and organise the appropriate transport to and from these events. This is a great way to remain active in the community. 

Respite

Home care funds may go towards respite for your carers. If a family member is caring for you, they can take a break and recoup their energy without leaving you alone in your home.  

Extras

In some cases, a home care package might cover the cost of special dietary foods or health-related retreats. 

In summary: Home care packages cover most of the tasks and services required to take care of you personally (or your loved one) and the home. You can also request a carer to drive you or your loved one to and from social outings and medical appointments. 

What’s not included in a home care package?

Home care packages don’t cover expenses like groceries. While a home care provider will be happy to do the shopping for you or your loved one, they don’t usually pay for the items that you buy. 

With that being said, most of pre-made food services partner with home care package providers. Your provider may cover 70% of the cost of home-delivered meals, so this is an option you can ask about. 

Your home care does not cover the cost of your rent/mortgage, travel/holidays, or entertainment expenses like cinema tickets. 

In conclusion: If you or your loved one needs support to live at home and are over the age of 65, you may be eligible for a home care package. After you have completed a formal assessment, a level of home care package may be approved depending upon individual needs. The specific services received from a home care provider will be based on personal requirements. 

If you or a loved one would like to discuss available services and how they might meet your needs, the Aged Care Decisions team can help. Call us on 1300 775 870 or reach out through our online form.

You’ll find more information on home care packages and residential aged care by visiting Aged Care Decisions.

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