What is a home care package?

If you are planning on ageing in your own home, you may be wondering what is a home care package and how do I get one?

With the Australian Government’s Productivity Commission’s report Housing Decisions of Older Australians, 2015 revealing that 83 per cent of people aged 60 years and over would prefer to live in their own home as they grow older, home care is growing in popularity.

So much so that there are now more than 121,000 people of the home care waiting list. Due to this growing waiting list, it’s more important than ever to understand what home care packages provide and how to go about applying for one so that you are not left waiting when you are in desperate need of care.

Understanding home care package levels

The home care package program offers funding to help Australians over the age of 65 remain living in their own home as they age.

There are four levels of home care packages from Level 1 for basic care needs up to Level 4 for high-level care. Each level attracts a different amount of funding which is paid direct to your chosen home care provider. Your home care provider then delivers your care according to a personal care plan that is put together with your input.

Depending on your assessed care needs, your home care package can provide a range of support that will allow you to remain in your own home. This can include domestic assistance, transport, personal care, social support and nursing services.   

How do I get assessed for a home care package?

If you are considering accessing home care, start by getting in touch with My Aged Care by calling 1800 200 422. They will talk you through the process and find out some details about your current situation to check your eligibility. If your care needs indicate you would be eligible for a home care package, My Aged Care will refer you to an Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT) to complete an assessment.

Once you are referred to ACAT, a local ACAT assessor will come to your home. They will chat with you about what you’re having difficulty with and observe how you are coping in your day-to-day life. They may also ask your permission to speak to your doctor or other health care professionals to get a complete picture of your care needs.

They will then use this information to approve you for a home care package at either low-level (Level 1 or 2 package) or high-level care (Level 3 or 4 package). ACAT will write you a letter to inform you of your approval, which package you are eligible for and what this package covers.

What is the waiting period for a home care package?

While this approval letter tells you what package you’re eligible for, that doesn’t mean you’ll automatically get assigned a package at that care level.

After being approved for a home care package, you will then be put on the national prioritisation queue to await a package. Home care package wait times can vary and you will be assigned a package when you are the next eligible consumer on the queue at a particular level and priority.

At the moment, the national queue for home care packages has a waiting list for packages of at least nine months for low care packages (Level 1 and 2) and more than 12 months for high care packages (Level 3 and 4).

The latest quarterly report released by The Department of Health showed that at June 30, 2018, 56,750 consumers were waiting to be assigned a package and 64,668 were currently receiving services below their assessed care level while they wait for a higher level package.

Many people awaiting a Level 4 package may be offered a care package at a lower level first and continue to stay in the queue while a package at their assessed care level becomes available.

What do home care packages cost?

While home care packages are subsidised by the Federal Government, you may be asked to pay an income-tested care fee or a basic daily care fee towards your home care package costs.

How do I find a home care provider?

Once you have received your home care package, you will need to find a home care provider in your local area who will deliver your care.

With home care providers all offering differing fee structures, charges and approaches to care, it’s important to be armed with consistent information so you can adequately compare providers. The big tip here is to do your research and don’t be afraid to ask questions to help you choose a home care provider that’s right for you.

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