What Are Your Care Options?
Nobody wants to be in a situation where because of illness, frailty or incapacity we have to look to other people for our care. Unfortunately, as we get older, many of us find ourselves in just such a position.
In addition to relying on your family members to care for you, what are your options if you do need care or need to supplement the care you are receiving from your loved ones?
Commonwealth Home Support
The starting point, if you have basic care needs, is the Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP). The CHSP brings together a number of services that are designed to help you to stay independent rather than doing everyday tasks for you. The services can include such things as transport to appointments, respite stays, home maintenance and domestic help. The provision of one or two appropriate services can go a long way in keeping you independent.
Although there are some exceptions, you may be eligible for CHSP if you are 65 years or older; or 50 years or older for Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people.
Home Care Packages
If your care needs are higher, then a Home Care Package (HCP) may be better suited to you.
There are four levels of Home Care Packages:
Home Care Level 1 – to support people with basic care needs
Home Care Level 2 – to support people with low-level care needs
Home Care Level 3 – to support people with intermediate care needs
Home Care Level 4 – to support people with high care needs
HCPs are delivered for people aged 65 or older or 50 years or older for Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people, on a consumer-directed care (CDC) basis.
CDC means that the care recipient has some control over the budget of money the government allocates for their care needs by working with the care provider to nominate the required services.
Subject to an assessment, the current government subsidy of the HCPs ranges from just above nine thousand dollars a year for Level 1 care to over fifty-two thousand dollars a year for the level 4 package.
Some services such as rent for permanent accommodation and travel and accommodation for holidays are not included. You should also note that some contribution towards cost may be required, depending upon your circumstances.
Private Care Services
In addition to the government-funded services there are also private care services, which are often used to “top up” a care package or provide support following a stay in hospital or while someone is waiting to receive a care package. The type of services you can receive and the cost will vary from one provider to another so it is best to contact them directly.
Short-Term Restorative Care (STRC)
STRC is a programme that eligible people can receive for up to 8 weeks, two times a year. This is designed to help slow down or if possible, reverse the situations that may be giving you difficulty in staying independent. Following an initial doctor’s assessment there are a wide range of STRC services that could be appropriate, for example help from allied health professions such as podiatrists, and physiotherapists or mobility aids. What is actually included varies from case to case.
The exact services you may be eligible to receive under transition care will vary according to your specific circumstances and needs. This can be assessed by an assessor visiting you in the hospital. The services could start whilst you are still in hospital and then continue at home or if you are going to aged care, then in the aged care facility.
Unfortunately, some of us have to have several hospital admissions so it is good to know that there is not a limit as to the number of times you receive transition care.
Respite Care & Emergency Respite
If you are dependent on a carer at home and the carer needs to be away for a few hours or for a day or a few days, what then? Respite care is designed for just such occasions. On many occasions the respite period can be planned, but there are also times such as when your carer has an emergency that prevents them caring for you. In these cases, it may be possible to access Emergency Respite. The Carer Gateway website has more details about respite.
Residential Aged Care
If your care needs are unlikely to be met by in-home care or if you simply see that residential aged care may be the best alternative for you in your later years, then this is an outline about residential aged care.
Residential aged care providers offer many different types of accommodation, such as single rooms, shared rooms, couple’s rooms and rooms in vertical aged care facilities. The furnishings should be fit for purpose but will vary between operators.
The assistance and services offered in aged care will also vary as to extent, however, generally they will include looking after your day-to-day needs such as providing meals and laundry. Social activities are also organised.
Where needed, assistance with personal grooming and hygiene such as bathing, showering, dressing and toileting is provided.
In terms of medical assistance, nursing help such as catherization and wound management is usually available on-site. Where more extensive medical consultation, intervention or prescriptions are needed then the aged care facility will arrange for the appropriate medical attention like arranging appointments with your GP, dentist, optometrist and so on.
The Government subsidises residential aged care. The subsidy is determined by a means test and a needs assessment and the subsidy is provided directly to the residential aged care provider.
If the subsidy is not the full amount of the aged care providers fees and charges then the difference has to be met by the resident. For this reason, it is vital to know the fees and charges involved and to understand the method and timing of payment.
The costs include a basic daily fee, accommodation costs, care fee and fees for additional services. The main methods of payment are:
• A lump-sum refundable accommodation deposit (RAD) The RAD is fully refunded to you or your estate when you leave the aged care facility.
• Daily Accommodation Payment (DAP), which is essentially the (RAD) calculated as a daily payment. A combination of the RAD and the DAP
A Complex Jigsaw
Unfortunately, accessing the rich variety of care options is not as simply as picking up the phone and arranging it. We have only been able to provide a very simplistic, helicopter view of what is available in a complex jigsaw and you should get your own professional advice when making decisions in respect of care options and how to access them.
These websites provide important information to assist you:
Australian Over 50s Living & Lifestyle Guide