You may be aware that the federal government provides money to older Australians to pay for their support needs. But where do you start? What are home care packages? How can you apply for a home care package?
We’ve set out answers to all those questions below to make it easy for you to find your way to accessing affordable support that enables you to enjoy your life in your own home.
What is a Home Care Package?
A Home Care Package (HCP) is funding provided to older Australians by the federal government to pay for supports that are required to help them remain living independently. Explore home care packages and what services you can use a home care package for.
Am I eligible for a Home Care Package?
To be eligible for a government funded Home Care Package, firstly you must be aged 65 years or older (or 50+ for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people). You may be experiencing reduced mobility or have been diagnosed with a medical condition. You might have had a fall or been admitted to hospital for another reason. Perhaps your family care arrangements have changed.
An assessment of your eligibility for a Home Care Package can be done through the federal government agency, MyAgedCare.
Find out more about eligibility requirements for a home care package.
What are the different levels of home care packages?
Home care packages are categorised by four different levels that correspond with the level of support the individual requires.
- Level 1 – Supports basic-level care needs
- Level 2 – Supports low-level care needs
- Level 3 – Supports intermediate-level care needs
- Level 4 – Supports high-level care needs
Each level includes a different amount of funding, and as an individual’s needs become greater, their Home Care Package may be increased to the next level.
Find out more about levels of home care packages to decide what level you are eligible for.
5 steps to accessing a Home Care Package
MyAgedCare, the federal government’s starting point for accessing a Home Care Package has outlined the five steps involved in accessing one.
- Receive the outcome of your ACAT assessment: The first step is to arrange an assessment of your needs through the Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT). They will determine your eligibility for a HCP as well as which HCP level of funding would be appropriate. The assessment is usually done in your own home but can also be conducted in hospital or at a loved one’s home. There is no charge for an ACAT assessment and you can have someone with you for support.
- Choose a home care package provider and work out costs: Once you are allocated a package, you will need to choose an approved provider to administer the funds for you. Alternatively, you can have more control over how you spend your funding and choose the people who support you, what they do and when. You can do this by self-managing your Home Care Package through Mable. All you need to do is find a provider that offers a genuine self-management option, such as HomeMade. Find out how to work out costs associated with your home care package.
- Be assigned a home care package: Once you’re approved for a home care package, you will be put on a national priority system to be assigned your home care package. There will be a wait between the time you are approved and the time you are assigned a home care package.
If you need support urgently, you can pay privately to find Independent Support Workers through Mable. When a Home Care Package becomes available, you will receive a letter from MyAgedCare to let you know you have been assigned a package.
- Enter into a Home Care Agreement: A Home Care Agreement will set you how your services will be provided, who will provide them and how much they will cost. You can choose to self-manage your home care package through approved providers that work with Mable (such as Homemade) to get more out of your home care package and receive the exact services you want.
- Begin your services: Your home care package starts on the day you enter into the agreement (not from the day you start receiving care and services). Ask your provider if they will support you with a self-direction option or being able to self-manage your support workers via Mable. If not, contact the Mable team and we can talk to you about providers who do.
Home Care Package: How to prepare for an ACAT assessment?
An ACAT representative is there to help you and to assess your needs for support. You can have a friend or family member with you if it would make you feel better.
You’ll need to have a few items ready, including your Medicare card, contact details and referrals from your GP, and any information regarding support you currently receive. This support could be assistance from family members, community organisations like Meals on Wheels, and volunteer groups.
Have a list of your own questions ready too. If you have any questions around your cultural or religious considerations, your privacy, finances or how you will be kept informed, be sure to ask. If you think you may need an interpreter to be present for your ACAT assessment, it’s important that you request this in advance.
Learn more about preparing for an ACAT assessment.
You’re on a waitlist for a Home Care Package – now what?
The wait can take between 3-6 months for approval of a Level 1 Home Care Package and 6-9 months for approval of Levels 2, 3 and 4. MyAgedCare does take into account the urgency of need when processing applications.
If you are urgently seeking support while waiting for your home care package to be approved, you can start connecting with Independent Support Workers via Mable.
Through the platform, you can receive flexible, tailored support. Once your HCP is approved, you can switch from private payment to using your Home Care Package funding as payment.
How do I choose a Home Care Package provider?
All Home Care Packages are Consumer Directed Care (CDC) packages. That means you can choose your preferred individual or support services provider. You will need to check that whoever provides you with support services is suitably experienced and/or qualified, is adequately covered by insurance, and has a current police check and ABN.
When you connect with independent support workers on the Mable website or app, all of these things are taken care of for you. All support workers who offer their services via Mable have been thoroughly vetted. And with Mable, you get to choose the support worker yourself, choose the services they provide and negotiate the hourly rate you pay them.
Home Care Package: what are the fees and charges?
Whilst the federal government provides eligible older Australians with funding through a Home Care Package, individuals are also required to contribute to the cost of their care. Your HCP is made up of the government’s contribution and your contribution, as follows:
Basic daily fee
Everyone approved for a HCP can be asked to pay this. The government has set the fee at a percentage of the single basic Age Pension, depending on the Home Care Package Level that’s been approved (the percentage could be 15.68% to 17.50%).
Income-tested care fee
Some people are also required to pay an income-tested care fee, based on their individual income, including pension. Full pensioners and people whose income is up to $28,974.40 are not required to pay this fee. Annual and lifetime caps apply for the income-tested care fee for in-home support. Once that cap has been reached, the individual cannot be asked to pay more in income-tested care fees.
Additional service fees
You may choose to access additional support services that are not covered in your Home Care Package budget. Additional service fees are amounts you will be required to pay over and above those allowed in your HCP.
Learn more about home care package fees and charges.
How to Self-Manage your Home Care Package
A Home Care Package must have at least one care manager to administer the way your HCP funds are spent. There are fully managed plans (managed by someone other than yourself) and self-managed plans (managed by you, or if you prefer, a family member you trust). Mable welcomes clients whose HCPs are managed in either way.
Self-managing your Home Care Package puts you in control of your plan and gives you lots of choice. For instance, as a client on the Mable platform, you get to choose your support worker, the services you receive and when you receive them, and you also get to negotiate the hourly rate.
When you self-manage your HCP, you’re also able to track your budget so you can always see how much you have to spend at any time.
Mable offers a full suite of tools within the website and app. Your client portal is where you can store documents relating to your care, approve invoices for payment, schedule support sessions, communicate securely with independent support workers, post jobs and search for new support workers.
All the independent support workers who offer their services via the Mable platform have been fully screened and vetted for security, police checks, qualifications and identity. And they are all fully covered by a comprehensive suite of applicable insurances.
How to connect with support when self-managing a Home Care Package
With Mable, it’s as simple as signing up for a secure client account and filling out your details. You can search the independent support worker profiles at any time to find someone who you feel is a good fit for your needs and the individual that you are.
Aside from searching the profiles to find a support worker, you can also post a job if you have something specific coming up such as a surgical procedure that you’ll need extra help for afterwards, a family wedding to attend, or if you’d like a support companion to accompany you on a weekend getaway.
You can also post a Last Minute job for a support session that you need to book within 4-48 hours.
Find out in detail how to connect with supports when self-managing your home care package.
I’m not eligible for a Home Care Package, what can I do?
Rest assured that even if you are not eligible for a Home Care Package, you can still access all the services you need. The only difference is that you will pay privately (out of pocket).You will still enjoy all the benefits that come with Mable’s secure platform, fully screened, verified and insured independent support workers, and user-friendly client portal.