We need to talk about: Home care

Dec 18, 2021
Many older Australians prefer to age at home rather than move into a residential care facility. Source: Getty

As we age, our needs change, including our stability and how quickly we recover from an accident. There is support available to assist with living from home, to help you maintain your independence for longer.

Planning for the care

Over the next 40 years, the increasing number of older Australians is expected to transform the country both economically and socially. Early planning can take the stress out of aged care decisions for you and your family. And it can help to have a clear understanding about the actions needed to ensure the appropriate level of care, how to optimise your financial position and be aware of your options, and the role of the family home.

The reality is that, as we are living longer, we are increasingly likely to reach the phase of life sometimes called the “frailty years” or “care years”. By minimising your frailty risk, you are putting a plan in place to maximise your independence and help you or your loved one stay at home for longer.

There are government subsidies that can help make care more affordable. But having adequate savings does allow for greater independence and control over your options.

When you make your retirement plan, we highly recommend you consider your needs across all phases of retirement. If you are looking for care options for yourself or a loved one, the ability to maximise independence while still receiving appropriate care in areas where assistance is needed is typically a key consideration.

Maximising Independence with Home Care

Many older Australians prefer to age at home rather than move into a residential care facility.

Support for ageing at home may be provided by your spouse or family and friends. It may also come from a home care service, which may be provided by private funding or by government subsidy.

There are levels of approved home care packages available for government-subsidised assistance. To access government subsidies, your circumstances and the necessary level of help will be assessed.

Accessing Home Care Subsidies

There is a ‘national queue’ for home care subsidies, but you may receive a low level of care while you are assessed. The length of the wait time may vary, and you should get more details at the time of assessment.

While you are waiting for your assessment, we recommend you start researching home care providers in your area, so you can roll out a plan for care once your package is allocated to you.

Steps for Home Care Subsidies:

Step 1 – Assessment

  • You will need to arrange for an Aged Care Assessment Team/Service (ACAT/ACAS) to assess your eligibility.

Step 2 – Research Providers

  • Research providers in your area and understand what services they offer and their reputation as well.
  • You can always reach out to the providers, as they may also have waitlists for services depending on what they offer.
  • If you already have a plan of who you would like to use and an idea of what care you would require, it will make the transition to starting care quicker.
  • You may also elect to fund some services privately while you wait for your care packages to be approved. 

Step 3 – Start Subsidised Care

  • Once your package is allocated, you can finalise the details of services with your selected provider.
  • You will likely need to sign a home care agreement, but your provider will walk you through the requirements.

What Type of Services Are Subsidised?

Your level of funding will be determined at your assessment.

Services that your subsidies cover include:

  • Bathing, hygiene and grooming.
  • Nursing.
  • Podiatry, physiotherapy and other therapies.
  • Meals and food preparation.
  • Cleaning, laundry and other chores.
  • Home or garden maintenance.
  • Changes to your home to help increase or maintain your mobility.
  • Transport.
  • Aids to help stay independent, such as walking aids and mechanical devices for lifting you in and out of bed.

Getting Assessed

If you’re having trouble with everyday tasks and feel that a bit of support could improve your health and wellbeing, you may be eligible for support through the Commonwealth Home Support Programme. If your needs are more complex or a higher level of support is required, a Home Care Package could better suit you.

To find out which programme and level of care you are eligible for, you can apply for an assessment through the My Aged Care website. You can complete an application online for yourself or on behalf of a family member or friend.

Home care subsidies have helped many older Australians maintain their independence for longer. As we mentioned earlier, there is a waitlist for assessments. Many people enter residential care after an emergency such as an accident leaves them unable to live at home. Knowing your options and having a strategy for managing living at home financially and with support services can benefit you or your loved one to maximise their independence.

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Disclaimer: Any information contained in this article is general information and has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on any information in this article, Infocus Securities Australia Pty Ltd recommends that you consider whether it is appropriate for your circumstances. Information in this article was correct and current as at November 24, 2021. Infocus Securities Australia Pty Ltd ABN 47 097 797 049 AFSL and Australian Credit Licence No. 236523 trading as Infocus Financial Advice and Infocus Money Management.

IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your financial or legal situation, objectives or needs. That means it’s not financial product or legal advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a financial or legal decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get independent, licensed financial services or legal advice.

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