For your information, here is an overview on changes around government subsidised in-home care following the recently introduced aged care reforms.
GOVERNMENT SUBSIDISED SERVICES
From 27 February 2017, Aged Care in Victoria reforms have been introduced which now gives you, the client, the choice of care and support within your home. Check with your local office for the rest of Australia.
There are two government subsidised supported Home Care Services, but you are asked to pay something towards the cost of the service. The amount you are asked to contribute depends on your income, assets and circumstances.
The Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP) formerly known as HACC programme and usually provided through the shires. This programme provides support services for older people who need short-term or basic assistance. This service is subsidised by government, but there may be some fees to pay.
Regional Assessment Service
Before you’re able to get CHSP services, a Regional Assessment Service (RAS) assessment is needed. They will visit you at home to assess what services you can use. Contact My Aged Care for a referral to RAS.
With the CHSP, you:
- choose from a set menu of services – there isn’t much flexibility
- only pay for the services you use
- can dip in and out of the programme as you need things.
This programme provides more complex, coordinated and personalised care at home. It offers four levels of care packages to progressively support people with basic, low, intermediate and high care needs. It can include personal care, support services, nursing, allied health and clinical services.
Aged Care Assessment
To find out if you are eligible for government subsidised home care, you require an Aged Care Assessment. There is no fee or charge for an aged care assessment.
To organise an assessment, you need to call My Aged Care which is a government portal for any older person seeking care. Telephone 1800 200 422. Interpreters are available, if required.
My Aged Care staff will organise an assessment for you in your home depending on your need. After you have been assessed, you will receive a letter outlining what service you are eligible for you and how to go about organising your care.
If you are not satisfied with the assessment, you can seek a review of the decision. You must do that in writing within 28 days of receiving your letter from the Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT).
Engaging an Approved Provider
If you have been assessed as being eligible for a Home Care Package, you can decide if you want to take up the package and contact providers to find out if the services they offer meet your needs. These providers must be approved by the government. Once you have chosen an approved provider, you can then choose to have them manage your funds and provide the actual services, or you can request another service provider to provide the actual services that best suit your needs. The choice is YOURS.
To find an approved provider call My Aged Care.
With a Home Care Package:
- a case manager or case adviser helps you understand the system and work out a Care Plan
- you decide how to spend the funding you get, rather than choosing from a menu
- you will receive a monthly statement which will include the following- income, including your contributions and the government contribution, itemised expenditures, including charges for services received and any other charges such as administration and case management fees, and balance and the unspent funds, including any contingency fund.
Some providers bundle charges together into one hourly rate (called a ‘unit cost’). You can ask for an explanation of how they have come to this amount and a breakdown of the costs.
- once you have a package, it stays in place for the long term.
- you will sign a Home Care Agreement which outlines the roles and responsibilities of you and your provider.
What you pay
There are two types of fees you may be asked to pay: the basic daily fee and an income-tested care fee.
Your provider may ask you to pay a basic daily fee. This amount is added to your budget and boosts what you can spend on care and support. Different providers charge different basic daily fees. Some providers have no fee and some use a sliding scale. You can negotiate with your provider about what basic daily fee you pay.
If your income is above a certain amount, you must pay an income-tested care fee. Your income-tested care fee is assessed by Centrelink and increases the higher your income is. The government subsidy for your package is reduced by the same amount as your income-tested care fee. Both of these fees are the same no matter what level of package you are on. There are also supplements for people in remote areas and with specific needs, such as dementia support.
If you’re worried about costs, you can get free, confidential and independent financial advice from the Department of Human Services Financial Information Service. Find more information on the Financial Information Service web page or telephone 132 300 to make an appointment. If you can’t afford to pay, you may be able to get government financial hardship assistance.
Value for money
Whether a Home Care Package is good value for money for you depends on your circumstances – everyone’s situation is different. Part-pensioners and self-funded retirees will have to contribute more, but a Home Care Package may still be worthwhile. Some things to consider are:
- what your care and support needs are
- whether you have others that can help you to manage at home
- whether you would be better off financially paying for services privately
- how much you have to contribute versus how much the government will subsidise.
Direct services, goods and equipment
It can be worth comparing your provider’s charges for services, goods and equipment to what you could buy privately. For example, some people use their package funds for allied health services, but find better value for other services, like garden maintenance and cleaning, in the private market.
Administration and case management fees
Administration and case management fees vary between providers. Although the government caps the Income-Tested Care Fee, it doesn’t control provider fees. You can ask other providers for a list of their fees and compare these with what your provider charges. Be aware that some providers charge a higher ‘unit cost’, which is all-inclusive, whereas others have a lower unit cost but add administration and case management fees.
Independent financial advice
If you’re concerned about finances, the government’s Financial Information Service can give you free, confidential and independent financial advice. Telephone 132 300 and when prompted, say ‘Financial Information Service’.