If you’ve decided that you would like to get a Home Care Package, the first step is to arrange an assessment. Once you’ve been assessed and approved, you’ll need to choose a provider.
Before you can get a Home Care Package, you’ll need to check your eligibility and have an assessment.
Checking your eligibility
Home Care Packages are meant for older people, but there is no minimum age requirement.
There are no citizenship or residency restrictions on Home Care Packages, however, they are not meant for visitors to Australia or people who need only temporary or short-term care. If you want short-term care, the Commonwealth Home Support Program might be a better option for you.
Home Care Package assessments are done by the Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT), or ACAS in Victoria. An ACAT professional visits you in your home to find out about your needs. They assess whether you are eligible for a Home Care Package (or other assistance) and what level of help you will need.
ACAT assessments are free.
Arranging an assessment
To arrange an ACAT assessment, call My Aged Care on 1800 200 422. You can ask for an interpreter if you need one.
Before you call, have your Medicare card ready and the contact details of your doctor and a family member. You may also like to prepare by writing down a few things that are starting to be challenging for you.
My Aged Care will ask you some questions about:
- your living arrangements
- your health and wellbeing
- things you find difficult to do
- support you are currently receiving.
Based on your answers, My Aged Care will work out whether you need an ACAT assessment or an assessment for a different service, like the Commonwealth Home Support Program. They will help to arrange an assessment for a time that suits you.
During the assessment
During the assessment visit, the ACAT member (usually a nurse, social worker or other health care professional) will ask questions about how well you are managing in your day-to-day life. They will also explain the assessment process.
The assessment is an opportunity for you to share what is important to you and what support would make a difference in your life. It might be helpful to think about this before the visit.
You can have a friend, family member, partner, carer or advocate with you during the assessment. To find a local advocate, contact the National Aged Care Advocacy Line on 1800 700 600.
After the assessment
After the assessment, the ACAT will write to you with the outcome and explain what level of Home Care Package you are eligible for.
If you disagree with your assessment you can appeal the decision. Alternatively, discuss your concerns with an advocate by calling the National Aged Care Advocacy Line on 1800 700 600.
Once you have been assessed and approved, you decide if you want to accept the services. It’s your life and your choice. Some older people are worried that having an assessment means a fast-track into a nursing home. The truth is that most people will be linked into community care services that help them stay living in their own home.
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Once you’ve received your ACAT approval, you’ll need to choose a home care provider. Your provider gives you case management services – that is, they help to manage your package funds and arrange the services you want. Some providers only provide case management, while others also provide home care services that you can buy with your package funds.
Home care providers are a mix of for-profit, government and not-for-profit organisations (including religious, charitable and community-based providers). Some providers have operated for a long time; others are new. Some operate nationally and others only provide services in a local area.
Finding providers in your area
In metropolitan areas there are many providers to choose from, but in rural or regional areas there are often only a few service providers.
The ACAT will have recommended to you some providers in your area. You can also get a list of local providers by entering your postcode into the Find a Service tool on the My Aged Care website, or by calling 1800 200 422. Friends or family members might also be able to give you personal recommendations.
Things to consider
When choosing a provider, think about what’s is important to you. Here are some things to consider:
- What variety of services can they provide or source for you?
- How flexible are they? If they can’t provide something themselves, will they help you to find it somewhere else?
- Will they subcontract to workers you already receive care from so that you can continue with them?
- How often will you see or speak with your case manager or adviser? What is included in the case management fee?
- Can you choose how much or how little you are involved in self-managing your care plan and budget?
- What’s their reputation? You may ask to speak to one of their consumers already receiving care.
- What are the costs and charges for services, including case management, administration, hourly rates, exit fees, etc.?
- Will they negotiate how much you pay for the Basic Daily Fee?
- If you have specific cultural or language needs, do they have staff who speak your language?
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Sometimes there is a waiting period between the ACAT approval and when a provider offers you a Home Care Package. This can be a good time to start thinking about what you would like in a provider.
While you wait, draw on your current supports, family, friends and your community to help you stay independent at home. You can also use Commonwealth Home Support Program services while you wait – just ask your ACAT clinician for a referral.
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