Australia’s older demographic are living longer than ever before and, while in years gone by the only option for care in later life may have been to pack up and move into an aged care facility, this is no longer the case, with support available from the government to help the elderly maintain their health and independence.
Remaining in the home and receiving care is a growing trend and there are various routes you can take to access the adequate care and support for your parents, allowing them to live out retirement in familiar surroundings, without the stress of moving or losing their independence. However, while the options are out there, it can be difficult to know where to start when it comes to securing the assistance, particularly if this is something you haven’t been faced with before.
There are also two different schemes offered by the government’s My Aged Care system. So, to ease the stress at what must already be a difficult time, here’s a breakdown of the types of support available, as well as who is eligible and how to apply.
In Australia there are two types of home care funding options available, depending on the type of care your parent requires and their condition. These are known as the Commonwealth Home Support Support Programme (CHSP) and the Home Care Package (HCP).
Access to these services is open to people aged 65 or over (50-plus for Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people), or those aged 50 and over (45 or older for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people). Further questions will be asked at a face-to-face assessment to ensure the individual receives the right service and level or cover.
The My Aged Care Team can be easily contacted by phone at 1800 200 422 from Monday to Friday between the hours of 8am to 8pm and on Saturdays from 10am to 2pm. Before picking up the phone phone, you’ll need some forms of your parent’s identification on hand before you hit call, including their Medicare card.
Once the registration process is complete you’ll be asked a few questions about your mum or dad’s health to help determine whether an in-home assessment for a CHSP package or a HCP will be required. From there you will be directed to another member of staff, who works within the relevant package area, to discuss the next steps.
The Commonwealth Home Support Programme is available to those who require a lower level of care or temporary assistance after an illness, injury or surgery. For example, this could be someone who is no longer able to drive but needs some form of transport, or a person who requires support with gardening or domestic chores.
After making initial contact over the phone with the CHSP team, a home visit from a specialist assessor from the Regional Assessment Service will be organised. This is a chance for you or your parent to bring up any further questions you might have and for the assessor to get a clearer picture of what care and assistance is actually required.
To make the process easier, you should have any relevant information on hand, such as their Medicare card and one one other form of ID for the person requiring care. It’d also be helpful to have a copy of any doctors referrals from doctors and contact details for your general practitioner or other health professionals. From here a support plan will be created detailing all of the information you and your parent have provided, along with your mum or dad’s goals, strengths and difficulties.
The session is also a chance to give a preference as to which organisation you or your parent would like to provide the home care services. There will be no need for you to get in touch with the provider directly, as the RAS assessor will compile a referral and contact them directly.
If your parents support needs are greater then a Home Care Package (HCP) will be recommended. Following the initial phone call, an Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT) assessor will visit the home to further understand your loved one’s condition.
During this session the assessor will rank your mum or dad’s care needs on a scale from one to four, with one being the lowest level and four being the highest. While the type of care available does not vary between the levels, the amount of hours of care provided increases through the different tiers. As with the CHSP, the assessor will go through a range of questions and create a support plan to help your parent feel comfortable with the process and what they hope will be achieved.
Next, once all the relevant paper work has been completed, including establishing what fees which will be paid, your parent will be placed on a waiting list for a home care package. The wait time varies depending on the level of care your mum or dad requires.
Currently, for level one recipients the approximate wait time is three to six months, while those who require packages between level two and four can face a wait of 12 months or more. Where you parent lives can also play a part in this, as those who live a highly populated areas should expect to wait far longer periods as government funding for the services is spread across the country.
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