My Aged Care: Guide to Home Care Packages in Australia

My Aged Care’s Home Care Packages (HCP) are one of the ways that older Australians can access affordable care services to get some help at home. Here’s everything you need to know about it!

by Veena Vinod

The number of Australians aged 65 or over is expected to double in the next 35-40 years. It is more important than ever for older Australians to have access to subsidies and information about what their accommodation options are as they age. Whether they are looking to transition to living in an aged care facility or continue to live at home with support, 

My Aged Care is a government program that provides subsidies for older Australians to access aged care services. From at-home help for everyday activities, to support for living in residential aged care facilities, My Aged Care enables seniors to live dignified lives in their golden years. 

Australians over the age of 65 and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over the age of 50 can access My Aged Care. Everyone who wants to access My Aged Care services needs to undergo an assessment in order to understand the level of support required and determine an appropriate program for them – be it help around the house or assistance with transitioning from living at home to an aged care facility. 

The My Aged Care website and hotline are invaluable resources for older Australians looking to get information about the supports they can access. They can be reached at 1800 200 422, and you can appoint a representative to liaise with my aged care on your behalf. Individuals who have problems communicating in English can access translation services to speak to My Aged Care as well. 

What are My Aged Care Home Care Package services? 

If you’re not ready to make the transition to a residential aged care facility, a Home Care Package can help you get help around the house so you can continue to live at home. Home Care Packages span a number of different services, from nursing to home maintenance, and are tailored for your needs. 

The services that you receive on your Home Care Package may be different from another individual, and this can be due to your differing goals, needs, and providers. For example, a person without mobility issues wanting to be more involved in the community would have resources allocated to helping them connect with their community in the form of a companion for outings, or transport to social activities. 

On the other hand, an individual with severe mobility issues looking to maintain their home would have more resources allocated to home maintenance, home visits from allied health professionals, and home modifications to help facilitate movement around the house.  

What Services Can I Get under the Home Care Package? 

The main aims of the Home Care Package are to keep you independent, safe in your home, and connected to your community. There are a number of services covered under each of these aims, and your provider will work with you to identify what is important to you and what services will best help you achieve your goals. 

Wellbeing and Independence 

These services are most commonly accessed by people who are receiving a Home Care Package. This service consists of services such as home nurses, personal carers, and allied health professionals. 

Personal carers can provide manual assistance with your activities of daily living such as showering, reminders to take medication, and help getting in and out of bed. Home nurses can also visit you at home to treat, monitor, and manage certain conditions you may have. Nursing support is particularly helpful if you require regular wound care. 

Allied health professionals such as speech pathologists, podiatrists, and occupational therapists can help maintain your ability to move around and communicate with others independently. Allied health professionals tend to focus their treatment around real-life scenarios, so you will be well-equipped for life outside the home with their help.  

Safety in home

These are the more “attractive” services that draw people to Home Care Packages in the first place. This aspect of the Home Care Package consists of minor home modifications to support mobility and facilitate safe movement, cleaning and home maintenance, and assistive technology.

People who have mobility issues and are struggling to maintain a clean and safe living environment will benefit from home maintenance services. This includes assistance with labour intensive chores such as weeding, lawn maintenance, and mopping. You may also receive assistance with doing laundry as this is a regular task that is important to maintain hygiene. 

The minor home modifications can include grab rails to support mobility in the bath or shower, or easy access taps. Your provider may also offer advice about any areas that require modification for you to continue living in the home safely. The assistive technology in Home Care Packages typically refer to low-technology aids such as crutches or a pressure mattress. If you believe you require a high-technology device for communication or other activities, you can discuss this with your provider. 

Connecting with community

The Home Care Package aims to allow you to continue to go out into the community while ensuring your current living situation is meeting your changing needs. Depending on your personal goals with the Home Care Package and your provider, you may be eligible to receive transportation to and from some of your regular activities such as Doctor’s visits, and social activities. You may also be provided a companion to accompany you on outings, help set up internet in your home, and do regular in-home social calls. 

What is not included?  

Although Home Care Packages cover a lot of the things an older adult would need for daily independent living, it does not cover basic daily expenses such as food or leisure activities. However, the budget may make provisions in some circumstances such as when an adult needs to be fed by tube. Services that are covered by Medicare and the PBS are also not budgeted for in your Home Care Package – if you incur a gap fee for a medical procedure while on a Home Care Package, it is likely that you will be responsible for the associated costs. 

The services provided on a Home Care Package are not meant to replace the regular health services that you regularly attend, such as your GP or outpatient allied health clinic. You should continue to attend these services as needed. You can even inform your regular health professionals if you are receiving more services through your Home Care Package so they both can support you to reach your goals.  

If your needs change while receiving the Home Care Package and you believe that you should be receiving more or different services, you can discuss this directly with your provider. You will need to demonstrate that this additional service is directly linked to meeting your care needs and will improve your wellbeing. 

How does My Aged Care Home Care Packages work? 

First, you will need to find a provider that offers Home Care Packages. Based on your needs, you will be assigned a package level, with one for basic care needs and four for high care needs. The government will pay your provider a subsidy for the package, but you will also be expected to contribute to the costs if you can afford it. 

You will need to apply and undergo a face to face assessment, and the results of this assessment will help determine the level of care you need, and what services are most appropriate for you to meet your needs. Depending on the level of package you require, you may receive your package anywhere between three and 12 months from when you undergo your assessment. 

Typically, your income is not taken into account when applying for a Home Care Package, but you may need to undergo an income assessment and you would need to contribute additional funding for your Home Care Package in the form of income-tested care fee. 

Home Care Packages Service Providers 

My Aged Care has a find a provider tool that allows you to search for providers based on your postcode, support needs, and even religious beliefs. The tool allows you to select your preferred room type and even compare between facilities in the results. Some facilities have pictures uploaded, and provide information about the languages their staff speak, and where their facility is located. This is a great resource to use when looking for a service provider, as it allows the results to be customised to fit criteria specific to your lifestyle. 

My Aged Care can also provide information about providers for older adults who may not have access to the internet or not have the expertise to navigate an online search tool. Staff who attend to the My Aged Care phone line are knowledgeable about service providers in your area, and will be able to offer tailored advice based on your needs. Translating and interpreting services are also available for people of culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. 

Conclusion

Home Care Packages are a great resource for older Australians who are looking to continue living at home and may be requiring some assistance to do so. Your provider will work with you to understand your goals, and create a package that meets your needs. Take your time to find a good provider, ensure you are able to communicate your needs freely with them, and remember that My Aged Care is always available to assist with any questions you have. 

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References
  1. My Aged Care. (2021). About Us. https://www.myagedcare.gov.au/about-us
  2. My Aged Care. (2021). Home Care Packages. https://www.myagedcare.gov.au/help-at-home/home-care-packages
About the Writer
Veena Vinod
Veena is a Perth-based Speech Pathology student with an interest in acquired language disorders and over five years' experience in creating health and lifestyle content. She likes to unwind with Stephen King novels, gardening, or a good documentary.
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