How to access aged care funding in Australia
Through aged care funding, you may be able to get access to services and support that are subsidised by the Australian Government. These services and support could include help with transport, housework, personal care as well as specialised long-term/short-term accommodation, such as nursing homes. Find out more about aged care and whether you need it.
The first step to accessing funding is to meet the eligibility criteria. The government funds both home care and residential aged care (or nursing homes). Once you are eligible for either, the funding is paid to the ‘approved provider’ you choose, and you can start accessing the services set out during your assessment.
In both cases — home care and residential aged care — the individual may need to pay a contribution too. Find out more about home care package fees and charges.
Do you need aged care support?
If you’re over the age of 65, or an Indigenous Australian over the age of 50, and you’re not managing things as well as you used to, aged care support services could make a big difference to your life by helping you stay healthy and mobile, keep your home liveable (i.e. modifications to your home to help you live independently), remain active and stay connected to your community, or get personal care if you’re recovering from illness or a fall, for example.
Home-based aged care programs in Australia
Funding for home-based aged care in Australia falls into two government-subsidised aged care programs, each catering for a different level of support. These are called the Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHSP) which provides lower-level supports, and the Home Care Package (HCP) program which provides support for higher needs. Learn more about each of the home-based support programs below.
Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP)
The Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP) provides support for people needing just a few basic services to help them continue to live independently in their own home. It doesn’t suit people with more complex support needs.
Under the CHSP, you can access help for services such as meal preparation, transport, nursing care, etc. Find out more about the support you can get through CHSP.
To be eligible for the CHSP, you need to be aged 65 years and over, or 50 years and over if you’re an Indigenous Australian. However, if you’re on a low income, homeless or at risk of being homeless, that age requirement is reduced to 50 years, or 45 years if you identify as an Indigenous Australian. You will also need to undergo an assessment to determine eligibility and the level of support you need. You can apply online or by calling 1800 200 422.
Once you have met the eligibility requirements, you need to find a service provider, an organisation that delivers care and services to you at a subsidised price.
Home Care Package (HCP)
A home care package is meant for older Australians who have more complex care needs. As with the CHSP, to access a home care package, the first step is to undergo an aged care assessment with the Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT). If the ACAT assessment finds that your support needs meet the eligibility for a home care package, you may be deemed eligible.
The basic eligibility requirements for a home care package are that you are aged 65 years or older (50 years or older if you identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander), living at home and need assistance to do the things you used to be able to do yourself.
Once you have been approved for a home care package at the appropriate level, you have to wait to be allocated one. This can take some time, and in some cases up to a year for the funding to become available. That’s why it’s important to commence the process as soon as you think you might be needing support. Learn more about getting support services while you wait for your home care package funding.
While waiting for your Home Care Package to be allocated, you can start searching for a home care package provider, which will ‘host’ your funding for you and decide how you might want to manage your funding, including whether you want to self-manage your home care package.
Once your funding is made available, you can then contact your chosen provider to commence the sign-on process. You’ll work with your provider to build your care plan and decide how to allocate your package funding to meet your care needs and goals – and that provider will coordinate and manage those services on your behalf.
Residential aged care
This type of aged care support is the best option for older people who have more intensive healthcare and personal care needs that mean they aren’t able to live in their own home. In residential aged care, you don’t have to give up your needs and interests regarding social and emotional support either. That’s part of the deal. Residential aged care is also available for those who need short-term care, for example, respite care, to give family member carers some time out.
As with all forms of aged care, the Commonwealth government funds residential aged care for all eligible people aged 65 plus (or 50 years and over for Indigenous Australians). To find out whether you’re eligible, you’ll need to apply for an assessment from an Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT). Regardless of your eligibility, you’ll pay the residential home a basic daily fee. Above that, the costs you’ll pay will depend on your financial situation. You can find out more about costs, or apply for subsidised residential aged care.
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