How do Home Care Packages work?
Home Care Packages are federally funded packages which provide services at home for those who need them. An individual needs to be assessed as needing care to access these packages. The assessment process is free and is done by your local assessment service, usually in your home. To start the process, you need to call My Aged Care on 1800 200 422 who will send a referral to your local assessment service. If you are eligible for a home care package funding, the assessment will state whether you are eligible for a lower level package (level 1 or 2) or a higher care package (level 3 or 4). Each of the 4 levels equates to an amount of funding – about $8,000 per annum for a Level 1 package and about $49,500 per annum for a Level 4 package. The level depends on your needs disclosed in the assessment process so it is important that you do not understate your care needs during the assessment process. Even if you are wealthy, you can receive these subsidies although you will be required to make a contribution if your income exceeds certain thresholds.
What happens after you are assessed as eligible?
Once you are assessed as eligible, your name is placed on a national queue. There are a limited number of Home Care Packages available and you need to wait your turn. Your priority for one of these packages would have been determined at the time of your assessment. You will receive a letter from My Aged Care when your Home Care Package is allocated to you and you then have 56 days to select and appoint an Approved Provider. You can find a list of Approved Providers in your area by searching the My Aged Care website here behind the Home Care Packages tab. The home care services under a Home Care Package are delivered under a Consumer Directed Care model meaning that you can choose the services you want to be delivered provided that the services fall within the permitted uses for the funds. Approved Providers vary in terms of services that they provide and the prices they charge for those services so it is very important that you know what services you want and that you shop around to get the best out of your package. The only way that can be done at the moment is actually calling a number of Approved Providers and asking – websites often do not disclose you the information you need to make a fair comparison.
How much will my home care package cost me?
There are two potential components to the cost to you of a home care package:
- a daily care fee for which the maximum amount is pegged at 15% of the full single age pension – currently around $10 per day. Many Approved Providers will either negotiate this fee with you or not charge it at all; and
- an income tested fee which depends on your income (or deemed income). This fee is generally not negotiable. For full age pensioners, there is no income tested fee. For part pensioners, the income tested fee is maximum of around $5,000 per annum which is averaged out over a year and for self funded retirees, the maximum is around $10,000 per annum averaged out over the year.
These income tested and daily care fees (if charged) can mean that it is not cost effective for a part pensioner or a self funded retiree to take up a Level 1 or 2 package because it ends up costing more than if the services were funded privately. You should ask the Approved Provider whether it would be more cost effective for you to not to take up the Home Care Package with them. Level 3 and 4 packages are always cost effective irrespective of income.
What do I do while I am waiting for a home care package?
The wait times for a Home Care Package can be considerable. Sometimes, the assessor who has done the original assessment will give approval for interim services to tide you over. These are often expressed in your My Support Plan (the report received from the assessor) as individual services such as ‘Domestic Assistance’. If these services are approved, you can search the My Aged Care website here behind the ‘Help at Home’ tab to find Approved Providers in your area for those services. Once again, you should shop around to find out the services that are provided and the amount it will cost as it does vary between Approved Providers. If you hold a DVA Gold card, you may be entitled to services from DVA. If you need services immediately and not have these approvals, the only option is to privately fund the services until the Home Care Package is finally allocated.
Implementing home care services can be time consuming and stressful. If you need help accessing the services or understanding the options, contact us by phone on 1800 744 676.
Until next time
Margaret and Sara