Aged care services are designed with the aim of meeting your changing needs as you get older. There are different types of aged care services you can access including residential aged care, care provided in your home, and centre-based programs and activities.
Home care refers to services delivered in a person’s home – whether it is a home they have lived in for many years, a retirement living unit or any other place you call home.
There are two kinds of government funded services delivered to people living ‘at home’.
They are called the Home and Community Care (HACC) and the Home Care Packages Program.
The HACC Program is aimed at older people who are mostly able to live and cope on their own but need some help with common daily tasks. It can provide help with things like shopping and transport, cleaning or gardening; as well as more personal tasks like showering, dressing and basic nursing care.
The Home Care Packages Program can provide a bigger range of services within a ‘package’ of funds allocated to the older person, depending on their needs. There are four levels of package available, ranging from level 1 for basic care needs, up to level 4 for the highest care needs. Home Care Packages provide assistance for people who need help to stay safe and well at home.
Sometimes, the best way to receive help and support can be by living in an aged care home (sometimes known as a nursing home) either on a permanent basis or for a short stay (called ‘residential respite’).
Aged care homes are owned and run by people approved by the Australian Government. The aged care system in Australia aims to make sure all older people can receive support and quality care when they need it.
All aged care assessments are completed by the Aged Care Assessment Teams (ACAT).
The ACAT teams are spread around Australia. Your GP or local health care provider can assists you on your search or you can do it yourself by accessing the My Aged Care website or by calling My Aged Care on 1800 200 422.
Home Care Packages come with a lot of flexibility. The Consumer Directed Care approach (CDC) puts the older person – the consumer – in the driver’s seat. The person has the opportunity to say how the funds allocated to you in your package are used, so they can get the supports which will best help them.
With CDC the funds the government has allocated for the home care package, together with the older person’s co-contribution, are set aside in a budget for them. Its purpose is to help them stay at home for as long as possible, and provided it meets legal and safety requirements, the person will get to make the decisions about how the funds are spent. The home care service provider holds these funds their behalf and works with them to coordinate the services you want.
The relationship between the older person and the service provider is really important to achieve what you want. Their role is to work in partnership with you to give you support and advice, as much or as little as you want or need.
There are many different services which may support you to stay in your own home for longer, including:
- help with housework
- help with personal care such as bathing and dressing
- help with meals and food preparation
- help staying physically active
- social support and activities
- help with transport
- nursing care
- allied health support such as physiotherapy, podiatry or a dietician
- maintenance and modifications to your home
- goods and equipment to help you
- people you can talk with through counselling services
The funds in your home care package are to pay for help that keeps you safe and well at home.
If the person decides to move into an aged care home, there are steps the person will need to consider known as the Five Steps to entry into an Aged Care Home.
If you’re thinking about moving into an aged care home subsidised by the Australian Government, you will need to be assessed by the ACAT team, these are the same team that complete the assessments for the Home Care Packages.
For more information on the care and services which can be accessed through Home Care programs or residential care, visit the My Aged Care website or call My Aged Care on 1800 200 422.
What service providers can I access?
In addition to the search directory My Care My Choice offers, you can go to the My Aged Care website or call them on 1800 200 422 to find out who provides Home Care Packages in your area: http://www.myagedcare.gov.au/service-finders
If you are considering changing Home Care Package providers you should speak with your provider about the aspects of your service you are not happy with. You should also ask if you or your representative can take more control in managing the package, and you may receive some reduction in the charges for case management and core advisory costs.
- Aged Care Complaints Scheme Call 1800 550 552 – the call is free from most home phones.
- National Aged Care Advocacy Program (NACAP)
- Call the National Aged Care Advocacy Line on 1800 700 600 (free call) for a referral to your local NACAP provider or look them up here
- Home Care Today is a national resource initiated by COTA Australia and funded by the Australian Government Department of Social Services to support consumers and providers to successfully transition to Consumer Directed Care. Visit www.homecaretoday.org.au or call on (03) 9909 7910.