For most people, living as independently as you can in your own home as you age is what you want. But sometimes you might need some help with daily tasks that you can no longer manage as well on your own.
For example, you might need help with home maintenance, such as changing light bulbs or mowing your lawn. You might also need aids and equipment, like a walking frame, to help you get around your home safely and easily. Or you might need help with tasks like dressing or preparing meals. As you get older, you may also need some level of nursing care to stay in your own home.
Aged care services are designed with the aim of meeting your changing needs as you get older.
What to Expect
If you are thinking about getting services to help you at home, there are several things you will need to think about such as eligibility, the cost to you and how to organise the services you need through a service provider.
The Australian Government funds a number of aged service providers to give you the extra help you need around your home but there are also businesses who provide these services without government funding.
Services include domestic assistance, personal care, meal services, transport, social support and activities, counselling, and nursing care. Home services with government subsidy are delivered in two ways: through the Commonwealth Home Support Programme and through Home Care Packages.
Commonwealth Home Support Programme
If you only need a couple of services to help you stay living in your own home, it is best to access them through a program called the Commonwealth Home Support Programme. This program can assist you if you need extra help to stay in your own home longer.
Eligibility is based on a person’s age and assessed level of ability to carry out activities of daily living without help or supervision.
To be eligible for the Commonwealth Home Support Programme a person must either meet the following criteria themselves, or care for someone else with these requirements:
- Be an older person aged 65 years and over (or 50 years and over for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples)
- Have difficulty performing activities of daily living independently
- Live in the community (on their own, with someone else, or in a retirement village)
- Have needs that do not exceed a basic support programme.
Home Care Packages
If you have more complex needs, a Home Care Package may be right for you. You can access similar services to the Commonwealth Home Support Programme, but on top of this, the services are coordinated and tailored to meet your specific needs.
A range of services may be provided under a Home Care Package, including:
- Personal services – such as help with showering or bathing, dressing and mobility
- Support services – such as help with washing and ironing, house cleaning, gardening, basic home maintenance, home modifications related to your care needs, and transport to help you do shopping, visit your doctor or attend social activities
- Clinical care – such as nursing and other health support including physiotherapy (exercise, mobility, strength and balance), services of a dietitian (nutrition assessment, food and nutrition advice, dietary changes) and hearing and vision services.
In addition, as a Home Care Package recipient you may also be eligible to access social support such as the Community Visitors Scheme. If you are feeling alone and do not benefit from regular contact with family or friends, the Community Visitors Scheme (CVS) can provide an opportunity for social interaction, friendship and companionship through regular volunteer visits.
You and your home care provider can also negotiate other services to support you to live at home where these are identified in your care plan. For example, you may benefit from some aids and equipment to assist with mobility, communication or personal safety.
What will it cost?
The Australian Government pays for the majority of aged care in Australia, but as with all aged care services it is expected that you will contribute towards the cost of your care if you can afford to do so. Fees are determined by the service provider and take into account an income assessment provided by Centrelink.
Depending on the services you require and the provider you choose, a fee or co-contribution towards the cost of the service may be required. You will never be denied the care you need because you can’t afford it.
Any fees will be discussed and agreed upon with your service provider before you receive the relevant services.