There’s no doubt that most ageing Australian’s want to remain at home, with recent studies suggesting that over 90 percent of Australian seniors intend to stay put for as long as they can.
While private home care options are available, the Australian Government’s Home Care Package Program provides a taxpayer-funded subsidy for older people to use towards a package of care services and case management. However, the process of applying for a Home Care Package is not easy to navigate.
We’ve detailed 6 steps below to help you access a Home Care Package.
1. Contact My Aged Care
My Aged Care is the Australian Government’s contact centre for aged care service information and the starting point to access any government-subsidised aged care service.
When you contact My Aged Care, you will be asked a series of questions to determine if you need a comprehensive assessment by an Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT).
It is important to be honest and transparent during this series of questioning to ensure you are referred to the right assessment service. If you believe that your care needs are complex and ongoing, try and talk about them in as much detail as you can.
If My Aged Care believes that your care needs are complex, you will be referred to the Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT) who will determine your eligibility for a Home Care Package.
My Aged Care can be contacted on 1800 200 422 or via their website www.myagedcare.gov.au.
2. Complete your ACAT assessment
A member of your local ACAT team will contact you to make a time to come and see you. The member – normally a nurse, a social worker or an allied health professional – will conduct the ACAT assessment in your home. The assessment is designed to determine if you are eligible for a home care package and normally takes between 45 minutes and 75 minutes.
The ACAT member will ask you a series of questions about your general situation including how your state of health is, how you are managing with day-to-day tasks, what support you have from family and friends and what medications you are taking. The ACAT member will also have a discussion with you about your options ranging from living at home through to being supported in a residential aged care facility.
Once the ACAT member has provided you with information about the services available in your area, they will take your assessment information back to the ACAT to decide about your eligibility for a Home Care Package and what level of care they believe you are eligible for.
If you are assessed as eligible for a Home Care Package, you will receive an approval letter from My Aged Care that details the level of Home Care Package you are approved to receive and your priority for care. You will then be placed in the national queue.
3. Do your research
Your place in the national queue is determined by your priority for care and the time you have waited for a package.
While you are waiting to be allocated a Home Care Package, we recommend doing your research on the approved home care providers in your area to find out how they can best assist you with your needs. You can use the Service Finder on the My Aged Care website, or simply search for Home Care Package providers online.
It’s important to consider what’s most important to you in a provider. Every provider is different, from their fee structures, to their staff, to the way they communicate and form relationships.
Certain providers may ask you to pay a basic daily fee, which works out to be 17.5 per cent of the single person rate of the basic age pension. Depending on your income, you may be asked to contribute an ‘income-tested care fee’. This fee is determined by the Department of Human Services.
If you are a part-pensioner or a self-funded retiree, we recommend arranging for an income assessment by calling the Department of Human Services on 1800 227 475.
4. Choose your approved provider
Narrow down your list of Approved Providers to your top three choices and invite each Approved Provider to deliver a complimentary care consultation. These consultations will provide you with an opportunity to better understand the different offerings of each organisation.
We’ve listed a few questions we recommend asking below. It’s a great idea to write down the answers given by each provider, which you can compare when it comes to deciding who to host your package with.
- What percentage of my home care package subsidy do you claim for management?
- Do you charge the basic daily care fee? Are there any other charges, such as an exit fee?
- Do you employ your own care staff or do you use agency staff?
- Do you outsource any of your care services?
- How have your care staff been trained? Do you provide continuous training?
- How do you screen your care staff?
- Can I contact you after business hours? If yes, is there a charge for phone calls and emails?
- Are services available in the evenings, on the weekends and on public holidays?
- Is care management included or is this an extra cost?
- Will I have a small team of regular care staff? How can you ensure continuity of care?
5. Receive your Home Care Package assignment letter
Once you have reached the top of the national queue and been allocated your Home Care Package, My Aged Care will send you a letter advising of your package assignment. This letter will contain a unique referral code and an expiry date.
You are automatically given 56 days from the date of assignment to make a decision about your preferred provider, but you can contact My Aged Care on 1800 200 422 for an extension if you have not decided by this point.
6. Enter a Home Care Agreement
If you have decided on your preferred provider, contact them to let them know you have been assigned a package. Your provider will ask for the unique referral code on your letter – this will enable them to formally accept you as a client and access information about your care needs.
Your preferred provider will then meet with you to enter into a Home Care Agreement. A Home Care Agreement is a legal agreement with your service provider that sets out the details of what your package will provide, how much the services will cost, who provides the service and if there are any exit fees if you choose to leave their care. The Home Care Agreement must be signed before your Home Care Package services start.
Your provider will then work with you to identify your personal goals and design a tailored care plan to help you reach those goals. Your care plan forms part of your Home Care Agreement and will include any services that you may wish to receive through your Home Care Package.
Your provider will also work with you to develop an individual budget to fund your care plan. The budget sets out the total amount of funds available from your Home Care Package and how those funds will be allocated and spend.
Once these steps are completed, you are officially set up with your preferred provider and can start receiving services through your Home Care Package.
Need assistance with the Home Care Package process?
We know how difficult it can be to understand the Home Care Package environment. That’s why we offer to help people in our community navigate the Home Care Package maze, free of charge and obligation.
Simply contact your local My Care Solution office on 08 8331 9922 (Adelaide) or 08 8552 9840 (Fleurieu) and discuss your needs with one of our friendly Client Care Coordinators.
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