Currently, the government provides two tiers of service to assist people in staying in their own home –
the Community Home Support Program and the four levels of Home Care Packages.
The goal is that this support will enable people to remain living in their own home – rather than having to enter an Aged Care Facility / Nursing Home.
While this sounds great – the reality is proving to be less than ideal for those with a burning desire to
stay in their own home. There are some current issues that can – and do – result in people having to enter a facility despite their best efforts to stay in their home.
The waiting game
- someone may choose to wait as long as possible before entering the system, and by the time they reach out for help – there is then a further wait to be assessed for support and to have a Home Care Package allocated. It’s not as simple as calling up the My Aged Care team and having someone on your doorstep within the week – or in fact in some cases within weeks or months. Even once assessed you will most likely then be placed in the ‘queue’ and allocated a package when one becomes available.
- Once a Home Care Package is available you then need to do the ‘leg work’ to find your provider. This means comparing services on "https://www.myagedcare.gov.au/my aged care" website – and numerous phone calls/internet searches to locate the right provider for you, and then the process of signing up with your provider before your care gets started.
- The cost – support comes at a cost, and this comes as a shock to some people while the care is heavily subsidised everybody pays a contribution towards their care - it is still going to hurt the hip pocket, particularly for those with above average income and assets.
? is it enough – a level 4 package
- (highest level currently available) on average will provide you with around 16 hours of support in your home as a maximum. Usually, this means a carer to visit your home for a short period twice a day. For some people that is not enough to enable them to stay at home. As someone’s needs increase, they will need access to other assistance – through family and friends or top up their support by paying privately for extra services to stay in their own home. .
- On a positive note – the government is reviewing the system and over time has announced increases to the number of packages. Hopefully over time - as the system continues to improve there will be easier and faster access to the system, and there will be more hours of care available.
The important take away message?
- Don’t wait until it gets to a crisis point – entering the system early will save delays if /when your needs increase and you need extra support. It is faster to access more care if you are already in the system and have a provider.
- Stay involved in your community as much as possible, if you can have a few friends and family who can be part of your ‘care team’ – even having someone pop in and check on your, bring you meals - this can be an essential part of being able to stay in your own home.
- Plan early – the reality is you may need to fund some services, so be aware of the cost of a Home Care Package, and how you might fund private services (consider financial options such as a Reverse Mortgage).