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In this video interview Bina Brown, Director of Third Age Matters, explains how aged care home care packages work and how they are assessed.
See also Bina’s other videos interviews for SuperGuide:
How do home care packages work?
In 2014, they introduced these things called the home care packages. There’s four levels of home care packages that are delivered to the person. So, it’s a budget of money that you can spend however you like on your own care, on whatever goods and services you need to keep you in your own home.
I think a lot of people don’t understand how that system works. Again, it was badly rolled out, and it’s only just started to sort of sort itself out. There’s a 6-12 month wait for a home care package and 120,000+ people waiting for a high level home care package.
So there’s high demand and I think that the government underestimated what demand would be there. But I think once that sorts itself out and when people do get assigned a home care package, it can go a long way to keeping them at home.
It’s unfortunate that some people leave that too late, to both apply for one and therefore get assigned one. Often people are having to move into residential aged care probably earlier than … well, unnecessarily. Either that or they’re dying before they get a home care package, which is awful.
How are home care packages assessed?
You’re assessed for a home care package by what they call the Aged Care Assessment Team. It’s a government organisation with healthcare professionals who come and talk to you about your needs. They go away and prioritise and assign you a level – one, two, three or four. One being the lowest level of care and four being the highest. What that essentially does is make you eligible for a package of money that’s assigned to you.
It’s administered by a provider. So, some of the big names that people might recognise are IRT or BaptistCare or KinCare or just to name a few, but there’s literally hundreds and hundreds of them around the country. So, they take responsibility for that money and they assign you a case manager and you talk about the care and services that you might need.
So a level one package is probably worth about $8,000 and a level four package is about $54,000 a year, which you may or may not be asked to contribute to. It’s income-tested and there’s also a basic care fee. So the government does ask you to make a contribution towards that, but it is income-tested.
There isn’t what they call an entry level care service provision. Again, highly subsidised services delivered by government sanctioned providers called Commonwealth Home Support Program. So if you haven’t been assessed for a home care package, but you know you need some help, you may have access to this sort of what they call sort of ad hoc entry level services.
If you’re on quite a high care type, they cut out as soon as you get offered a home care package. Unless you’re on a high level package waiting for more help, then you can sort of tap into this other service.
So, I think probably the take home message is that the help is probably there somewhere and people shouldn’t wait until the absolute last minute before they need it. Understand where it is and how to access it before you need it, because there’s a huge shortage of workers and services, compared to the demand.
Bina Brown is a journalist and director of aged care solutions company Third Age Matters.