Understanding Home Care Packages in Australia

What government funded home care services are available in Australia?

The Australian Government funds two home care services in Australia.

  1. Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHSP). This program is suitable for older people who need basic or short-term support, for example, when recovering from illness. It supports people who are still managing well at home, but want extra assistance, such as home help, personal care, or meals delivered.
  2. Home Care Packages (HCP). This is a more comprehensive, longer-term, home-based support service designed to assist older Australians who want to stay living at home. There are four levels of government funding depending on your assessed level of need.

How much is a HCP worth?

There are four levels of HCP. Each level receives a different amount of government funding depending on the assessed level of need of the recipient. If your needs change, you may be reassessed for a higher-level package.

Aged Care HCP LevelsNeed assessmentApproximate yearly government contribution 
Level 1Basic care needs$9,000
Level 2Low-level care needs$15,750
Level 3Intermediate care needs$34,500
Level 4High-level care needs$52,250

How do I get assessed for a HCP?

To access a government funded aged care service, you will need an assessment. Assessments are coordinated through My Aged Care (MAC) which is the entry point into the aged care system in Australia. Contact My Aged Care on 1800 200 422 or via the My Aged Care website. It’s important to know that there is a very long waitlist so it’s good to get assessed early.

My Aged Care will ask you some questions about your living arrangements, your health, things you find difficult to do, and the support you are currently receiving.

Based on your answers, My Aged Care will determine if you need an in-person assessment from the Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT). A friend, family member, partner, carer, or an advocate can join you during  your assessment. Assessments are free and there are interpreters available to help.

What happens after I’m assessed for a HCP?

After your assessment, MAC you will advise you of the outcome of your assessment in writing and place you in the national priority system to wait for a package to be assigned to you.

Everyone has a waiting period before being allocated a HCP, based on assessed need and time that has elapsed since assessment. You may be allocated a CHSP or lower-level package until a higher-level package becomes available. Use the time in between to investigate the type of support and provider that will best suit you.

The average waiting time for a HCP can be up to 12 months. Whilst waiting, it’s possible to access supports by paying privately. The benefit of using Mable to connect with support workers is that you can continue those relationships once your HCP is approved. Find more about this here.

Once you receive your letter from MAC, you have 56 days to choose and sign an agreement with your preferred Home Care Package Provider. When you choose your HCPP, you will give them the unique Referral Code on your letter from MAC, so that they can accept your package and trigger your funding.

How does the payment of a HCP work?

As a HCP holder, you will not receive the money for your home care directly. Your package is administered by the government approved Home Care Package Provider you have chosen. If you receive a HCP Supplement, it will be added to your HCP each month in addition to your basic subsidy.

How do I choose the HCPP?

There are two fundamental types of HCPP.

  1. Traditional Providers. Traditional Providers host your package, provide the care management, and select support workers on your behalf, usually from their rostered pool of support staff, who work at rates set by your HCPP. Traditional Providers, suit home care recipients who need extra help organising their care services.
  2. Self -Management is the modern ageing concept of managing your own home care. Self-managing your HCP is designed for those who value and want to maintain their independence through staying in control of their own care and support needs. Here the individual, either by themselves or supported by family or friends , chooses a HCPP to host their package and care plan, then they choose the service team that supports them and what that support looks like. If you choose to self manage, Mable can connect you with a number of Home Care Package Providers who offer self management.

Aside from the significant difference in the level of choice and control between the two alternatives, provider fees vary significantly. This is important because the level and cost of fees impacts the hours of service support you receive. Self-managing with Mable, could result in you doubling the hours of your home care package support.

NEXT: Guide to Self Managing your Home Care Package