It’s no surprise that living independently at home, rather than moving into a care facility, is often the preferred option for Australia’s ageing population. For individuals who are mentally intact, physically mobile and happy where they are, staying at home is not only desirable, but is the logical choice. The Australian Government’s homecare package addresses this need, providing our ageing community with funds and services where they are best needed.
By 2050, over 3.5 million Australians will be accessing aged care each year – with 80% of care services delivered to the community. Over a five-year period from 2014, $955.4 million will be given to support elderly Australians who choose to stay at home.
Homecare packages are designed to make living independently for the elderly a little easier, as well as ensuring that individuals stay safe and well. Some individuals may be able to live alone most of the time, but require assistance with some of the more difficult daily tasks. Homecare packages provide people with tailor-made service packages designed to meet their specific care needs. Each package is coordinated by an approved homecare provider and has funding approved by the Australian government.
There are different levels of home care packages available, from those providing the most basic level of support (Level 1) to those providing a high level of assistance (Level 4).
What kind of assistance is available?
There are several forms of assistance available:
- General support services – help with laundry, cleaning, gardening, home maintenance, 24-hour on-call service, community activities, shopping and transport to medical appointments
- Personal assistance – help with organising meals, eating, as well as dressing, showering and toileting
- Staying healthy – organising appointments and transporting to health services such as physiotherapists, dentists, podiatrists, dietitians, nurse visits, help with bandages, walking frames, personal hygiene and any issues regarding maintaining health and safety around the home
Fees and the home care package
The Australian Government pays for the majority of aged care services in Australia. However, it is expected that the individual will make some contribution to the cost of the care if they can afford to do so. Senior citizens receiving the home care package will be asked to pay a basic daily fee plus an income tested care fee, if they are receiving any additional income. An individual’s assessable income determines the fee.
The basic daily fee
The basic daily fee is a fee that all people receiving care are asked to pay. Currently this fee is $135.92 per fortnight, and is capped at 17.5% of the single basic age pension.
Means-tested care fee
Some individuals may be required to pay an additional income tested care fee. This fee is payable depending on the amount of income an individual receives. The fee is calculated at 50% of the income, above particular income thresholds. There are also annual caps that limit the maximum that can be charged.
Those wishing to commence a homecare package, including self-funded retirees, may be required to lodge an income assessment form. Those receiving means-tested income support payments from the Department of Veteran’s Affairs or the Department of Human Services will not need to lodge an income assessment form. In addition, those on a full age pension will not be required to pay a fee.
More information about means-testing is available at the Australian Government’s Department of Social Services website, https://www.dss.gov.au/our-responsibilities/ageing-and-aged-care/aged-care-reform
Sage Institute of Aged Care – it’s more than a job, it’s a rewarding career.
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