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Aged Care - What are Your Options?

29th January 2019

There are several options available when it comes to aged care. From in-home to residential services or retirement living. Here’s what you need to know.

Once you’ve wrapped your head (and heart) around the fact you or your loved one requires some support it’s time to start making some practical decisions. The type of care you receive is determined through a free assessment managed by the Australian Government’s Aged Care Assessment Team, who will visit you at home to evaluate your care needs and options (this can be organised through myagedcare.gov.au or by phoning 1800 200 422).

As a guide, aged care options generally fall into staying at home with support, or moving into a residential facility (these can also provide live in care on a temporary basis for occasional respite).

Staying at home with help

There are two government-funded packages available to assist those assessed as able to stay at home with some support. Under the Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP), you may be provided with a range of services including personal care, transport and assistance with food preparation and meals.

The second is the Home Care Packages Programme (Home Care), which offers services at four levels of care, with care needs increasing with each increment of level.

The four levels of support cover:

  • Home Care Level 1 – basic care needs to a maximum Government contribution of $8,271 p/a.
  • Home Care Level 2 – low level care needs to a maximum Government contribution of $15,045 p/a.
  • Home Care Level 3 – intermediate care needs to a maximum Government contribution of $33,076 p/a.
  • Home Care Level 4 – high care needs to a maximum Government contribution of $50,286 p/a.

You can access a fee estimator on the MyAgedCare website, as well as detailed information on fees a consumer can be asked to pay, as well as current fees and charges for Residential and Home Care.

In-home care can also be accessed by those requiring shorter term assistance, including those returning home following a hospital stay. You may be provided services including low intensity therapy (such as physiotherapy and occupational therapy), social work, nursing support or personal care. To enter transition care, you’ll need to be assessed as eligible by an Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT) while you’re an in-patient of a hospital.

Residential care

Residential facilities – also called nursing homes and aged care homes – provide a range of care options and live-in accommodation on a permanent, or respite basis. This option is for those assessed as unable to continue living independently in their own homes. There are a wide range of aged care homes available across Australia, catering to a wide variety of cultural backgrounds and specific needs – for example, dementia patients.

Residential care is provided by Australian Government-approved organisations (which may be run by private companies, church groups, charities or communities), and the majority of aged care costs are covered by government funding—though you will probably be asked to contribute towards the cost of your residential care, if you can afford it. Service providers must provide a certain level of service to be accredited.

Residential care offer a variety of services to residents, including:

  • Assistance in accessing specialised therapy services or a health practitioners.
  • Help with personal care including bathing and dressing, going to the toilet and eating.
  • Mobility and communication support.
  • On-call staff for emergency assistance.
  • Provision of meals and laundry services and basic furnishings including beds, mattresses, linen, bedside lockers and chairs.
  • Social and recreational activities, as well as rehabilitation support.
  • Support for people with cognitive impairment, such as dementia.
  • The maintenance of buildings and grounds, utility costs (i.e. electricity and water) and council rates are always included in the general fee.

Some retirement village developments offer residential care accommodation, for which you will still need to be assessed by the ACAT team. Many retirement villages offer access to a range of home care services such as help with domestic work and transport to appointments. These are provided at an additional cost, unless you are eligible for financial support for home care services via the Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP) and Home Care Packages (HCP).

Choosing services

The service finder on MyAgedCare website can help you locate and compare some services in your area, and your assessor can also help you find service providers in your local area. As it can be a time consuming process, it never hurts to get started early if possible.