Help at Home: Home Care Packages and More

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Home Care & Assisted Living
6 May 2019 - 9:51am -- NBrown@amanaliv...

A person’s home is their castle and understandably most of us want to remain living in our home as we age.  But getting support and accessing home care can be confusing. There are things called home care packages, acronyms to understand like ACAT and CHSP, and assessments by My Aged Care before you can get help at home.    

At Amana Living, we’ve been serving the Western Australian community for nearly 60 years. Our team has extensive experience in helping thousands of WA seniors access the services that help them to live at home for longer, and we want to help you to understand how you can get the supports you need to remain independent.

This blog will explain the different types of home care supports and packages, the My Aged Care system and assessments, how to access help at home, and what we can do to smooth the process.  

What is home care?

A good place to start is understanding what home care is and how it can help you.  Many people think of home care as help with the basics like cooking and medications, but home care is so much more than the old ‘home help’ model. The scope of home care is broad and can start with things like cleaning and gardening and go all the way up to specialist nursing and dementia care.

There are two main types of home care programs funded by the Federal Government, Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP) and Packaged Care, also known as home care packages. We’ll focus on these two programs here but you can also access home care services privately.

Commonwealth Home Care Support Programme (CHSP)

The Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP) is aimed at helping frail older people with entry level care needs to keep living at home. The sorts of supports available via the CHSP include domestic help, meals, transport, home maintenance and home modifications. The full range of Commonwealth Home Support Programme supports available can be viewed here –

https://www.myagedcare.gov.au/help-home/commonwealth-home-support-progra...

CHSP replaced the program called Home and Community Care, also known as HACC, in July 2018.    To be eligible to receive home care services via CHSP, you need to be:

65 years or older (50 years or older and identify as an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person) or
50 years or older (45 years or older for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people) and on a low income, homeless or at risk of being homeless

Typically, people who receive CHSP support are having trouble with everyday activities and so they need help to live independently in the community.

Home Care Packages

Home care packages are the second type of Federally funded home care support. The packages are divided into four levels which corresponds to the type and intensity of support you will receive from a home care provider. These are:

Level 1: Basic Care Needs
Level 2: Low Level Care Needs
Level 3: Intermediate Care Needs
Level 4: High Level Care Needs

Each home care package is different as it’s based on an individual’s care needs and budget, but the type of services you can access include:

- domestic assistance: helping with everyday household tasks

- meal preparation: ensuring you are eating good, nutritious meals

- personal care: supporting your independence in activities such as showering and dressing

- social support: helping you with tasks such as shopping and banking, and maintaining social connections

- home garden maintenance: helping you to maintain a safe garden environment

- transport: assistance to travel to appointments

- nursing care

- podiatry and physiotherapy

- strength and fitness programs

- home maintenance

- pet care

- laundry services

To be eligible for a home care package, you are an older person who needs services to help stay at home or a younger person with a disability, dementia or other specialist care needs.

Steps to take to access home care

If you’ve made the decision to get help at home, you can contact a home care provider and pay for services privately or you can access Federally funded home care services.

If you want to receive Government support to help fund your home care support in Perth,

you’ll need to be assessed by an Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT).  There are a number of ways you can do this.

You can visit your GP and ask them to make a referral to My Aged Care, who will determine if you are eligible for home care services and will then arrange for an Aged Care Assessment. My Aged Care is the central Government portal responsible for coordinating access to aged care in Australia.   

You can also contact My Aged Care directly by calling them on 1800 200 422 or by visiting the website www.myagedcare.gov.au. The telephone line is open Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm, and on Saturdays, 10am to 2pm. These are Australian Eastern Standard Times.

If you’re in hospital and need support in place before you can return home, the hospital’s social worker can make the referral to My Aged Care and an assessor from the Aged Care Assessment Team will visit you in hospital.

How do ACAT Assessments Work?

An ACAT assessment is use to recommend the level and type of care that will best meet your needs. The assessment is free and it is carried out by a qualified assessor who will talk to you about your situation. They will meet you at your home or at hospital, and you’re welcome to have a support person attend the meeting with you.

The questions they will ask will relate to your health and lifestyle, any problems you have with completing daily tasks, and the level of support you have from family or loved ones. Your assessor may also want to speak to your GP or other health professionals involved in your care.

When it comes to the assessment, it’s handy to have the following information available:

- your Medicare number 

- a copy of any referrals from your doctor

- any information provided to you that you may want to discuss with the assessor

- your GP or other health professional contact details

- information on any current support you receive.

The ACAT assessor can provide you with information about the service providers in your care, the type of support available and possible costs.

Home Care Costs

There are costs associated with receiving home care support services and you will be expected to contribute to these, depending on your personal circumstances.

There is a fee for each Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP) service and the amount you pay will depend on the type and level of support you require. You do not need an income assessment to access CHSP services and your age pension will not be affected by your contributions to the cost of your services.

Likewise, there are fees for receiving a home care package and these include:

- the basic daily fee -  you pay a basic daily fee for every day you receive a home care package and it is currently $10.54 per day (as at March 2019).

- an income-tested care fee  - this is the amount you will be asked to pay towards the cost of your care based on an income assessment.

- fees for additional services – your home care provider may charge fees for services such as administration and case management.

If you are eligible to receive subsidised care, the Government will pay a subsidy amount to the home care provider of your choice. The subsidy amount depends on the level of home care package you receive and how much you can afford to contribute.  

The Government subsidy for each package is as follows:

 

Choosing a Home Care Provider

When it comes to choosing a home care provider, there are a number of things to consider beyond their proximity to your home.

Most importantly, do they treat you as an individual and design the services to meet your specific needs rather than providing a standard package? We take time to listen to the story and personal circumstances of the individual, and design a package of services that are bespoke to them.  We also make sure we understand people’s long term goals, as well as their immediate needs.

Are they transparent about their fees and will they fully explain what you are expected to pay for? This is an area that can cause confusion for people.  For example, do they explain what you are expected to contribute to your home care versus what the government contributes?  Some questions to ask include:

- Is there an additional cost for weekend or evenings?

- Is there a charge for extras beyond the hourly rate, for example travel?

- What is the cost for specialised services?

- Are there entry or exit fees?

- Will I be charged an administration fee and what does it cover?

- Will I get a monthly statement? Providers should give you a reconciliation of what has been spent and how much of your budget is left.

- Can I top up my own package?  

We make it clear up front that we charge a 10% administration fee that covers the initial set-up and assessment including care plans, wellness checks, annual reviews, administration and clinical governance.

Ask whether you’ll receive support from the same staff. We make sure we roster our staff to support the same core group of clients so they develop a relationship and good understanding of the individual.

Examine their breadth of services and reputation. Do they offer the full range of aged care support and will the provider be able to meet your needs as they change over time? A provider who has a wide range of services will offer greater value and flexibility longer term.  

Amana Living not only provides home care, but also social clubs for seniors, day clubs for clients with dementia, dementia support services, retirement villages and nursing homes.

Finally, what’s the passion or purpose of the organisation and does it align with your own beliefs and goals for the future?   Amana Living is a not-for-profit organisation that is dedicated to serving the community, so clients can be confident we operate in their best interest.

How Amana Living can help

We have a dedicated home care customer service team who is available to talk you through the home care process before you are assessed.  You can contact us to discuss your options and we can provide advice on the assessment itself.

If you decide to appoint Amana Living as your home care provider, our customer service team will have an initial conversation to discuss the types of services that will meet your needs, depending on your lifestyle and personal circumstances. 

Our Client Services Managers will then meet with you to learn more about you and your goals, and a care plan is designed with you.  

Summary

We’ve summarised the steps you need to take to access home care services and support to live at home in Perth.

Step one: Arrange assessment.

Contact My Aged Care, either directly or via a referral from your GP or hospital, to arrange an assessment.

Step two: Undertake assessment.

Undertake the assessment with the Aged Care Assessment Team to determine your eligibility for home care and the level of support required.

Step three: Eligibility and package level confirmed.

My Aged Care confirms your eligibility to receive home care support and the level of package.

Step four: Research home care providers.

Start making enquiries into the home care providers in your area and determine how much it will cost. You can search online at the My Aged Care website here -

https://www.myagedcare.gov.au/service-finder/home-care-packages

Step five:  Home care package assigned.

You will receive confirmation of your home care package and be assigned a unique package referral code that you’ll need to give to your preferred home care provider.

Step six:  Appoint a home care provider.

Negotiate with your preferred provider and develop a home care plan.

You can always call the Amana Living customer support team on 1300 26 26 26 if you need any help or have questions about these steps or home care in general.  

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