Given the choice, most older Australians would prefer to age gracefully in their own home or leave a move to residential care as late as possible.
One way of making this happen is through an income-tested government subsidised home care package, delivered by approved providers to members of the community who need help to stay in their own home. There is also the Commonwealth home support program service as well as numerous private operators.
To receive a home care package you must be assessed by health professionals within the Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT) (the Aged Care Assessment Service in Victoria), who determine the appropriate level of support.
There are four levels of support, ranging from low-level care (levels one and two) up to high-level care (levels three and four).
Clients can choose from a range of products, services and care solutions including domestic and shopping services, personal care, social activities, transport, home and garden maintenance, clinical and allied health services.
The government provides a base level of funding, starting at about $7800 a year for a level one package, which generally equates to about five hours help, and up to $47,500 for a level four, with 10 and 15 hours.
For this everyone is asked to pay a basic care fee (17.5 per cent of the single age pension) and where possible, an income tested care fee up to about $10,000 a year, or $60,000 over a lifetime.
Eligible home package recipients must find a provider in their area who has the package that best meets their needs, and can provide the services required.
From February 2017, the funding package will be allocated directly to the consumer, giving them greater control over who delivers their support and care services.
Bina Brown, Director of ThirdAgeMatters.com.au