For the majority of people, being able to live independently in your home as you age is what you want, but the reality is that sometimes you may need some help with things such as cleaning, meals, transport, personal care, domestic care and nursing care.
Given the scope of services available in aged care (home support and care, as well as residential aged care), for this article, we will be specifically focusing on the Commonwealth Home Support Programme.
There are several things you need to consider before seeking help at home. For example, the type of service and eligibility, how to organise the services and the cost to you.
Commonwealth Home Support Programme
If you need some help with daily tasks, however you don’t need a full home care package, the Australian Government funded Commonwealth Home Support Programme may be an option worth considering.
To be eligible, you will need to undergo a home support assessment conducted by the Regional Assessment Service (RAS).
A RAS assessor will determine whether you meet eligibility criteria through such parameters as a minimum age* requirement, and your capacity to perform basic activities in your daily living without the need for extra help. After the assessment, the RAS assessor will work with you to consider what sort of help is suitable to your needs via the completion of a support plan^.
Types of support
Services can be provided in either your community, whilst you reside at home or a combination of both. For example:
- Community. The services that are provided in the community may include:
- Social support – help with accessing support groups and social/recreational activities.
- Transport – help with transportation to and from your place of residence for your shopping or appointments with either a transport service, or receipt of vouchers/subsidies for taxi services.
- Home. The services that are provided whilst you reside at home may include:
- Domestic assistance – help with household jobs like cleaning, dishwashing, clothes washing, ironing and shopping.
- Personal care – help with moving about the house, eating, dressing, bathing and toileting.
- Home maintenance – help with home repairs and garden maintenance.
- Home modification – help with the installation of minor safety aids (such as support rails in your home, as well as ramps).
- Nursing care – a qualified nurse comes to your home to help, for example, with checking aspects of your health (such as your blood pressure and heart rate), treatments (such as changing wound dressings), and managing your medicines.
- Community or home. The services that are provided either in the community or whilst you reside at home may include:
- Food services – help with meals and shopping for food.
- Allied Health support services – help with particular health problems by health professionals such as physiotherapists, podiatrists, speech pathologists, occupational therapists, exercise physiologists and dietitians.
If your RAS assessment deems you eligible, they will work with you to decide which service providers may suit your needs. You can research service providers that are in your local area by using the My Aged Care’s service finder or by calling My Aged Care on 1800 200 422.
The Australian Government provides funding, but you may need to contribute towards the cost of your package if it is deemed that you can afford to do so. Fees payable (and, your potential eligibility for Government subsidy) is discussed and then agreed upon between you and the service provider – this is done prior to the receipt of your services.
It is important to note that an income assessment isn’t required to access the Commonwealth Home Support Programme and the Government’s contributions to the cost of your services don’t affect your age pension.
The purpose of the Commonwealth Home Support Programme is to provide you with a selection of services to help you remain living independently and safely at home. Depending on your circumstances, this may be sufficient to meet your needs. However, if you do require an increased level of care then there are other services available to you such as home care packages and residential aged care.
When considering aged care services it is also important to discuss your options with your financial adviser as depending on the service you require, there may be implications to contemplate regarding age pension and estate planning.
*Typically, individuals that are either: 65 years and over; 50 years and older, and on a low income, homeless or at risk of homelessness; or, 50 years and over, and identify as an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander.
^A support plan documents your strengths, goals, and motivations as well as contains the agreed recommendations for support and your assigned priority rating (based on your level of function, the level of risk in relation to the care situation, and any other concerns that are relevant to your situation).