Home Care Explained
Circumstances may change as you age, but with a little extra support, you can remain independent in your own home. Home care payments are designed to help you manage the costs of a range of care and services that help you, or a loved one, continue living at home for as long as possible.
If you are looking into home care options or transitioning into lower-maintenance living, we recommend talking to a Financial Planner before starting your application or making any significant decisions, such as selling your family home. Assets such as your home, or funds from the sale of the home may be used in your Home Care Assessment and can significantly affect your entitlements. This is why it is crucial to understand your options and different scenarios before you start the application process. Here are some steps to follow when looking to access home care services.
Step 1: My Aged Care Assessment
As a Government-subsidised service, eligibility for Home Care is assessed by an Aged Care Assessment Team (or ACAT).
A family member is welcome to attend the assessment, as you may be asked about any memory problems; health concerns; worries about home and personal safety; and how you are coping with daily tasks at home. We recommend having someone you trust involved in this conversation to support you and help if you don't understand any of the information provided.
The assessor will want to see any referrals you have from your doctor and contact details for your GP and other health professionals. You or your loved one may have to agree to a financial assessment, as in some cases, financial contribution to funding is based on an individual’s income.
Step 2: Source funding
When you have initial contact with My Aged Care, you’ll be directed to either of two funding options – the Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHSP) or Home Care Packages (HCPs). This then determines who does your assessment, the Regional Assessment Services (RAS) or Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT). Even if My Aged Care has not approved your funding, you can still start the process of finding out which care provider you would like to use.
Step 3: What do you need from your provider
Whilst discussing your assessment, we will look at your health and lifestyle and any concerns you have with completing daily activities. Based on your current situation, you might need services including personal care like showering or toileting, cleaning or gardening help, allied services such as physiotherapy or occupational therapy, nursing help like wound or catheter care, companionship or transport services. Once you’ve created a list of services you need, then you can match it to a provider, including other carer considerations such as languages other than English spoken or cultural awareness.
Step 4: Choose a home care provider
All aged care organisations deliver their services differently and charge different amounts. So, it’s important to look around and compare providers before deciding who to use. The main three things to look for are location, services offered and availability when looking for a provider to fit your needs. Other priorities may include culture, background, faith and health requirements. The next step is to shortlist a few providers, there are some online tools to help you find service providers in your area that are regulated by the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission.
Step 5: Compare home care package providers
When using the Find a provider tool, you can compare providers in your area easily and efficiently. Some of the things you might like to look for include:
Pricing for each service, including nursing fees, personal care and domestic support
Fees include basic daily fees, exit fees and package management fees
Ratings and reviews of each home care provider
What specialist services each provider can offer
What culture, background and languages the provider can support
You can also ensure that the providers you consider adhere to the Aged Care Quality Standards, by checking the ‘non-compliance register’ on My Aged Care to make sure any home care package provider you’re looking at is compliant with quality standards.
In selecting a provider there are a few factors that determine how much you pay for your aged care, including:
The type of care you’re approved for
The provider you choose, and
What you can afford
Remember, if you are eligible, some services can be offered with government-subsidised care. Different providers have different charges, so it’s important to know what to look for and how to negotiate costs.
Step 6: Get in touch with home care providers
Once you have a shortlist of providers in your area, contact them to discuss your needs.
Come prepared with a list of questions that might include:
Will I have a dedicated team to speak with?
Can I choose the person who will provide me with care/support?
How do you choose the person who will care for me?
Will I see the same carers each day/week?
What happens if I don’t like the person caring for me?
How often will my care plan be reviewed?
How are you different from other service providers?
Do you offer private and government-funded services?
Do you offer self-managed and care-managed services? What is the difference?
What are the costs involved?
What does a package budget look like?
Will you update me on unspent funds so I can spend my allocated budget each year?
You might bring a family member or carer along with you to these meetings as it’s good to have an open discussion about your care plan with both your family and the provider.
Step 7: Choosing a home care package provider
When choosing a home care provider, it’s important to reflect on the whole process as you will be in regular contact with them throughout your journey.
How did they make you feel?
Did you feel welcome?
Was it easy to set up an appointment?
Did you leave with all your questions answered?
Once the government has approved you for a home care package, you can officially choose your provider and receive your Home Care Agreement. This legal document will explain what funds are available for your use and will break down the Government’s contribution and your contribution (including the basic daily fee, income-tested fees and any other fees).
Talk to us to help develop a strategy to maximise your benefit with a home care package without affecting your cash flow, Centrelink or other concession cards. Professional advice can help you make an informed decision about your future.
Disclaimer: Prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on any information in this article, Olive Grove Financial Advice recommends that you consider whether it is appropriate for your circumstances. Information in this article was correct and current as of 23 May 2022.
Olive Grove Financial Advice is operated by Bill Savellis through The Financial Advisor (Australia) Pty Ltd ABN 72 619 546 431, who is a Corporate Authorised Representative (No. 1278394) of Havana Financial Services Pty Ltd.