Every living thing on Earth goes through ageing. It’s the process of getting old. The Australian population is known as an ageing population and with older Australians making up most of the total population. In a census conducted in 2017, over 1 in 7 people were aged 65 and over and this proportion of aging has been growing ever steadily.
In order to address the demands of the ageing population, the Federal Government has introduced high-level Home Care Package programs to support the needs of the elderly wanting to live in-home for the remainder of their lives.
Some of the biggest challenges that the elderly face through aging are physical, psychological and social. Elderly individuals may need assistance in carrying out the simplest of daily tasks just so that they could live their lives normally at home.
The level of assistance that’s required can vary from person to person and there are a number of government-subsidised in-home care programs that can provide support and assistance for the elderly (depending on the level of care they require).
Types of Government-Subsidised Aged Care programs
There are essentially two different types of government-funded aged care support programs.
Type 1: Entry Level In-Home Care and Support
The first one is an entry-level in-home support program which is an ongoing or short-term care and support provided through the Commonwealth Home Support Program.
This level of support includes:
- Planned respite
- Help with the housework
- Personal care
- Meals and food preparation
- Allied health
- Social support
Type 2: Complex In-Home Care and Support
The next one is a more complex in-home care and support program which has four levels of care provided through the government-subsidised Home Care Package (HCP) Program.
Home Care Package (HCP) Level 1
Provides services to meet Basic Care needs.
Home Care Package (HCP) Level 2
Provides Low-Level Care needs that helps the person to love independently at home.
Home Care Package (HCP) Level 3
Provides support for people who have Intermediate Level Care needs.
Home Care Package (HCP) Level 4
Provides support for people with the Maximum Level of Care to help them live safely and comfortably at home. It is expected that more people will be assessed as eligible for a lower level package, with a smaller number being assessed as needing higher level packages.
A Home Care Package is intended to help the elderly live in their own home for as long as possible. Each Home Care Package Level is tailored to meet the individuals needs and lifestyle to provide them with support and assistance they need with everyday tasks.
It is generally understood that the greatest need for support is in the last two years of a person’s life, however, in the recent years there has been an increased emphasis on keeping the elderly out of health and residential facilities and instead having them live at home for as long as possible.
While this is a more cost effective solution for the government, it also adheres to the wishes of the majority of elderly people who want to live in their own home for as long as possible as they draw closer to the end of their lives.
What if family member is already a caregiver?
Some elderly people who have chosen to live at home will generally have one or more of their family members take on the role of an ‘informal caregiver’ instead of having professional caregivers look after them.
The family member(s) usually assist the elderly with personal grooming, household chores and shopping. For the family caregivers, this is seen as a positive and rewarding experience for them that delivers a sense of well-being and gratitude towards their elderly parents.
However, when this is done for a prolonged period of time, it can also develop into carer burden and become a chronic stressor for the family caregiver — therefore leaving them with negative psychological, behavioural and physiological effects on their lives and health.
There are also agencies out there that can provide family caregivers with a range of supports services such as respite, carer support workers, carer training, carer support groups, carer education and capacity building.
The path to hiring a professional caregiver
Hiring a professional caregiver offers the family members with a number of different perks.
- Flexibility; The family member does not have to adhere to a strict schedule in assisting the elderly. Instead, a professional caregiver takes on these extra added responsibilities.
- It improves the relationship between the family members and the elderly because they can now spend more quality time together instead of having to provide care for them.
- It provides the family members with peace-of-mind knowing that their loved one is receiving the best available care from a qualified and professional caregiver.
Paying for professional caregiver services
Professional caregiver services can be funded in two ways;
- Privately, or;
- Through a Government subsidy such as Home Care Packages Program
Qualifying for a Government-subsidised Aged Care package
In order to qualify for government-subsidised home care services, you must first be assessed by My Aged Care. This will inform you on your eligibility to receive either individual services or a tailored package of services such as transport, physiotherapy, meals, social activities, etc.
To get an assessment, you will need to call My Age Care on 1800 200 422 (Monday to Friday from 8am to 8pm, Saturday’s from 1am to 2pm AEST) and a staff member will ask you some questions to understand your care needs. Your answers will help them to determine which type of assessment is most appropriate for you.
They may also organise a time with you to have a face-to-face assessment with a trained assessor, with your consent.
There are two types of assessments:
A member of the Regional Assessment Service (RAS) will assess you for entry-level in-home support services.
A member of an Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT) will assess you for more complex in-home support services.
It’s important to remember that there is no cost involved for you during your assessment to determine if you are eligible to receive help at home services.
If you are eligible for a home care services package, you are then expected to contribute to the cost of your care, where your personal circumstances allow.
You may also need a formal income assessment by the Department of Human Services before you start receiving the services.
Lastly, you will need to discuss and agree to any fees and charges with your service provider before you start receiving the services.
What happens once you’re approved for a Home Care Package program?
If your assessment is positive and you are eligible to receive a Home Care Package, you will then receive an approval letter (sample letter shown below) from My Aged Care informing you about the level of home care package that you are entitled to.
You will then be put in a waiting list in the national priority system for Home Care Packages and will be contacted when a suitable package is available for you. Your waiting period will depend on the date you were granted approval and on your circumstances.
Each level has an expected wait time for the approved package
Level 1 Home Care Package (HCP1) has a wait time of 3-6 months while the other levels have a waiting period of 12+ months.
Having said that, you may receive a home care package sooner than this depending on your situation.
Once you receive your approval letter for a home care package, you may be eligible for additional supplements to assist you with specific care needs. This will require you to undergo another assessment to check your eligibility.
Some of the supplements that are available are:
- Dementia and cognition supplement
- Veteran’s supplement
- Oxygen supplement
- Enteral feeding supplement
- Viability supplement
- Hardship supplement
It is also important to note that some supplements like the oxygen and enteral feeding supplements will not move with you if you change providers. Your new needs provider will need to re-apply for the supplements again.
You may also be eligible for financial hardship assistance if you are having difficulty in paying your aged care fees and payments. If you are granted this assistance, the Australian Government will pay some or all of your fees and charges if you started receiving a home care package on or after 1st July 2014. However, when applying for this assistance, the value of your assets will be taken into account during your assessment process.
Choosing your Home Care Package provider
Once you have received your letter from My Aged Care and been assigned your package, you can then start to research a list of Approved Home Care Package Providers to work out the costs associated with your care.
There are currently over 369 licensed Home Care and Community providers listed in Victoria.
While you conduct your research, it is important to keep in mind the following points:
- How can your Home Care Agency provider best service for your needs?
- What are the fees payable?
- Do they charge an exit fee?
- Do they offer any additional services?
The next important step is schedule in a free in-home appointment with your Home Care provider to help determine what they can offer you and the types of services and activities they will provide.
At Home Care Assistance South East Melbourne, we like to first meet with our clients and understand their needs and preferences so that we can cater to their exact wishes.
The services we provide are distinguished by the calibre of our caregivers, the responsiveness of our staff and our expertise in in-home care. We aim to embrace a positive and balanced approach to ageing centered on the evolving needs of older adults.
Our caregivers are trained by experts to match the elderly they are caring for and we’re constantly keeping up-to-date with aging trends in health and wellness industry and continually providing training to our caregivers so that they produce the highest calibre of care for our clients.
Our team will have a well-defined scheduling plan for you with backup procedures so that there is constant monitoring and care management for our clients.
The Home Care Assistance difference
- Daily care experts who specialise in around the clock care to help you live well at home
- Care managers who are on call for clients and their families, even during nights and weekends
- High-calibre caregivers who are provided with ongoing training and supervision when they are hired
- A unique approach to balanced care that promotes healthy mind, body and spirit
- Our proprietary Cognitive Therapeutics Method™ program that addresses cognitive decline, building on our expertise in brain health
- No long-term contracts so that you can use our services only as long as you’re 100% satisfied
- Our pride in being a trusted partner for professionals in various medical communities
- Peace-of-mind to our clients. Independent industry surveys place our client satisfaction rate at 97%
All the Home Care Packages must be provided on a Customer Directed Care basis and you have the choice and flexibility in the way that the care and support is provided. There is a different subsidy amount for each Home Care Package Level that contributes to the total cost of your services and care delivery.
Getting started with Home Care Assistance South East Melbourne
Once your services begin, you will receive a monthly statement that will show you the charges made to your Home Care Package funds. This statement will show you your charges for care and services, charges to cover administration and case management costs and it will also inform you about your remaining balance.
We also provide ongoing monitoring and formal review to ensure that your package continues to meet your needs. If at any point in time your circumstances change, the plan is reviewed to suit your needs.
You can also look at other options like being reassessed to see if you are eligible for a higher level of package or using your own money to purchase top-up services.
We do not have any lock-in contracts, which means you can choose to change your Home Care Package providers at any time.
If you’re after a particular service that your current provider doesn’t offer, Home Care Assistance South East Melbourne can assist you in easily changing your provider.
At Home Care Assistance, we are committed to helping families make the best possible decision for caring for their loved ones.
Below are some frequently asked questions that will help in clearing your doubts and will help you in making your decision in choosing a Home Care Provider that is best for your loved one.
Questions to consider when choosing a Home Care Agency
Q. Has the Home Care Agency been responsive, informative and professional?
A. We are available around the clock as a professional resource for you and your family. You can call us 24/7 on (03) 9005 1159
Q. Are the caregivers screened (Police clearance), reference checked and insured?
We hire only 1 in 25 applicants and conduct extensive screening and background checks.
Q. Does the Home Care Agency employ its caregivers and take care of taxes, withholding and workers’ compensation?
Our caregivers are employees, not contractors, to protect our clients from liability.
Q. Does the company conduct any caregiver training such as The Balanced Care Method™?
Our Balanced Care Method™ training emphasises healthy body, mind and spirit.
Q. Does the Home Care Agency guarantee a personality match and offer caregiver interviews?
We ensure a personality match and can change your caregiver if you’re not satisfied.
Q. Can you talk to current clients to get testimonials about care staff?
We can organise for you to contact our current clients if you would like.
Q. Does the Home Care Agency offer back-up caregivers in case of emergency?
We have an extensive roster of trained employees available for all our clients’ needs.
Q. Is the care manager available on-call 24/7, including nights and weekends?
We are available 24/7 for our clients’ needs including evenings, holidays and weekends. You can call us at any time on (03) 9005 1159
Q. Does the Home Care Agency perform regular care plans, client satisfaction reviews and caregiver evaluations?
We conduct regular quality assurance visits along with other tools to ensure client satisfaction.
Q. Is the Home Care Agency an approved provider of care packages?
We are approved providers of Government Subsidised Home Care Packages, TAC and WorkSafe.
Q. Are the fees and charges competitive?
We have no hidden charges and have a flat 10% fee and low hourly rates.
Q. Is the Home Care Agency a recognized leader in the senior care industry with published books on senior wellness and caregiving?
We are a recognized leader in the industry. Ask us for more information on our books.
- Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) 2014. Australian historical population statistics, 2014. ABS cat. no. 3105.0.65.001. Canberra: ABS.
- ABS 2017. Australian Demographic Statistics, Jun 2016. ABS cat. no. 3101.0. Canberra: ABS.