The government makes a subsidy available to some people who need home care. Known as a Home Care Package, the amount you could receive is based on an assessment of your personal care needs and financial situation.
You can use the funding to help cover the cost of home care services, equipment and case management.
The government only releases a limited number of packages at a time, meaning that even if you’re approved, you’ll likely have to wait before using it. Waiting is never fun, but you may be offered care at a lower level, or discounted ‘bridging care’ by some providers in the interim. You could also pay for your own care until the package becomes available – some expenses may be tax deductible too.
Aged Care Assessment
To qualify for a Home Care Package or any other government care subsidy (such as for post-hospital transitional care), you’ll first need an Aged Care Assessment. This is a simple process where health professionals ask you about your health needs. The assessment will determine whether you qualify for a Home Care Package, and how intensive your care needs are.
Your free assessment will be carried out by an Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT); usually a nurse, social worker, or another health professional.
‘Assessment’ sounds scary. Don’t worry; it’s more of a chat over a Nescafe and a biscuit. It takes place in your home (or in hospital if you’re waiting to be discharged). Your needs, opinions and preferences are central to the assessment.
During the conversation, you will be told about home-based care options. This could include subsidised home care or perhaps information about the entry-level Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP).
You are welcome to have a family member or friend at the assessment.
The Commonwealth Home Support Programme is for people who only need a little bit of help with daily tasks. It really helps if you’ve had a small accident or illness and are not quite right yet, or are just having trouble keeping up with the weeding.
Income and Assets Assessment – Centrelink
The Income and Assets Assessment form allows the government to work out what financial assistance – if any – you are entitled to.
Most Government support is means tested; you are expected to pay for your own care if you can afford to.
The assessment covers details including:
- whether you’re single or part of a couple
- whether you have any income
- what assets you have
- whether you have any debts
The form is 31 pages long. Frankly, it’s a slog. If you need assistance filling it out, speak to Centrelink staff, a social worker, or someone who owes you a HUGE favour. The assessment is then valid for 120 days, although if you can have it extended if you apply before it expires. Otherwise, it’s favour time again.
The form: Permanent Residential Aged Care Request for a Combined Income and Assets Assessment (don’t say we didn’t warn you)
For more detail about what income and assets will be assessed, visit MyAgedCare
Following the assessments, you will be sent a letter outlining the results and what – if any – funded care is available to you. If you receive a package, you’ll need to pay a basic fee, based on the aged pension. It’s currently around $78 per week. If you feel that you would face financial hardship you can apply for financial hardship assistance.
The letter will also explain what to do if you disagree with the assessment.
Call My Aged Care on 1800 200 422 to arrange your Aged Care Assessment.
Registering to receive government assistance with care costs can take up to 12 weeks, so it’s best to start the process as soon as you can.