As you get older, living independently in your own home can become more difficult. If you’re finding it harder to do the things you used to, you can ask for some help at home. This doesn’t mean losing your independence, it is quite the opposite. Getting a little help with daily activities means you can stay independent in your own home for longer. In fact, a little support can lead to a much better life.
Help at home looks different for different people. It may mean getting help with shopping and cooking. Or it could be receiving personal care to bath, dress, and get in and out of bed. It may even mean getting modifications to improve your safety and movement around the house.
There are four key steps to accessing Australian Government-funded aged care services through My Aged Care.
STEP ONE Learn about different types of care
If you are just starting out on your aged care journey, this is your first step. You can see what services are available to help you stay in your own home, or what to expect in an aged care home.
Services for getting out and staying social
Arranging for a visitor to make in-home or telephone-based social calls
Providing a companion to assist with shopping or getting you to an appointment
Arranging social activities and providing or coordinating transport to social events
Arranging for you to attend group-based activities in a centre
Assistance setting up phone and internet communication services to keep in touch with loved ones
A care worker visiting you in your home for a short period of time e.g. when your carer is away or unavailable
Arranging a driver service
Providing transport vouchers and subsidies
Assistance with shopping, visiting health practitioners, and attending social activities
Services for getting some temporary help
Centre-based respite that enables you to talk and interact with other people at a day centre, club, cottage, or residential setting – during the day or overnight
Flexible respite – A paid carer coming to your home so your usual carer can take a short break
Help to restore independence
Allied health services such as physiotherapy, osteopathy and massage
Aids and equipment (including mobility aids)
Personal care and assistance
Psychologist or counsellor support
Transition care after leaving hospital
Therapy services like physiotherapy, occupational therapy, dietetics, speech pathology
Clinical nursing care like pain management, wound care, oxygen therapy, medication assistance, dementia support
Personal assistance with everyday tasks like bathing, personal hygiene, eating and eating aids, dressing, and undressing, wheelchair use, etc.
Services for keeping well
Help with bathing, showering, toileting
Help with dressing/undressing
Assistance with getting in and out of bed
Help with washing and drying hair, shaving
Reminders to take your medication
Continence advisory services
Dementia advisory services
Vision and hearing services
Help with meal preparation (including special diets for health, religious, cultural, or other reasons)
Meal delivery services (excluding the cost of food)
Wound care and management
Someone to help you take your medication
General health and other assessments
General health and treatment education to improve self-management
Other clinical services such as hearing and vision services
Services for keeping home live-able
Walking aids like crutches, quadruped walkers, walking frames, walking sticks
Mechanical devices for lifting you in and out of bed
Aids like slide sheets, sheepskins, tri-pillows
Installing easy access taps
Installing grab rails in the toilet, bath and/or shower
Installing a ramp
Providing advice on areas of concern regarding the safety of your home
Accessing technical assistance for major home modifications (that are not included in My Aged Care services)
Help with making beds
Help with ironing and laundry
Help with cleaning like dusting, vacuuming, and mopping
Help with unaccompanied shopping
Fixing uneven flooring
Minor garden maintenance including weeding, pruning, and lawn mowing.
STEP TWO Get assessed for aged care services
Before you can access government-subsidised aged care services for the first time, you need to apply for an assessment. Using the online application through my aged care is quick and easy and will only take 15 to 20 minutes to complete.
It’s the same form to apply for all types of care and support – including help at home, short-term care, and care in an aged care home. You can complete the application yourself or with assistance from a family member, friend or employed third party. If you want to set up an ongoing support person, you can also do that.
There are three parts. The first checks you are eligible, the second captures your details, and the third confirms who the assessor should call to arrange the assessment. You will need your Medicare card and enough time to complete it.
After you submit your form, an assessor will contact you within 2-6 weeks to arrange an assessment. You will also receive a My Aged Care welcome pack in the mail containing helpful information and outlining what your next steps will be.
STEP THREE Find a provider in your area that suits your needs
When you are assessed, you will be advised that you have been added to the national wait list for a home care package – which is an annual amount of funding that can go towards services you need. When you are allocated a package, you will be advised of the process, and provided with a letter and a referral code that your nominated provider will require so they can view your information.
Once My Aged Care notify you that you have been allocated a package, you have six weeks to locate a home care package provider that you wish to manage the package for you. A home care package provider is an intermediary between you and the government. The provider knows about the legislation, will manage administration of the funding, will liaise with service such as allied health, nurses, and cleaners, to negotiate and book services as well as paying for the services. They also keep any eye on your funding to ensure it doesn’t run out to quickly and to use what you are entitled to. Fees by private providers are capped at 20% of the funded package.
Depending on the type of care you are eligible for, your agreement with the service provider varies. In addition to home care packages, they may also assist with residential respite, transition care, short term restorative care, or aged care home. Not all providers look after all types of care.
Home Care Packages have four different levels of care from 1 to 4 and which one you are assessed for depends on your care needs and situation. Each package level has a funding allocation from Medicare to allow your case manager to provide support services.
The wait time for services depends on what you need and where you are. Commonwealth Home Support Programme services, which is an entry level service, depends on the availability of providers in your area. The wait time for approved Home Care Packages can be more than 12 months. Those with urgent needs are also prioritised to receive services.
Whilst waiting for a home care package to be finalised, you may be able to access short term restorative care (STRC). The STRC Programme provides services to older people for up to 8 weeks to help them delay or avoid long-term care. A client can access 2 episodes of STRC within a 12-month period. This is organised and administered by a package provider.
STEP FOUR Manage your services
If you are currently receiving aged care services, there may be times when you need to make some changes to them. Whatever your situation, you can manage your services so that they continue to work for you. There are a few aspects of your aged care services that you can change depending on your situation and needs:
when your services are delivered - for instance, if you’re going on holiday
what services you receive - if your needs change while you’re receiving care
your service provider - if you need to change providers for a particular reason
Whether you’re receiving care at home or in an aged care home, the aged care quality standards define what good care should look like. All government-funded aged care providers are required to comply with eight aged care quality standards. The standards reflect the level of care and services the community expects from aged care providers.
The aged care quality and safety commission (ACQSC) is responsible for assessing and monitoring government-funded aged care services against the quality standards.
What are the eight standards?
1. Consumer dignity and choice “I am treated with dignity and respect and can maintain my identity. I can make informed choices about my care and services and live the life I choose”
2. Ongoing assessment and planning ”I am a partner in ongoing assessment and planning that helps me get the care and services I need for my health and well-being”
3. Personal care and clinical care “I get personal care, clinical care, or both personal care and clinical care, that is safe and right for me”
4. Services and supports for daily living “I get the services and supports for daily living that are important for my health and well-being and that enable me to do the things I want to do”
5. Organisations service environment “I feel I belong, and I am safe and comfortable in the organisations service environment”
6. Feedback and complaints “I feel safe and am encouraged and supported to give feedback and make complaints. I am engaged in processes to address my feedback and complaints, and appropriate action is taken”
7. Human resources “I get quality care and services when I need them from people who are knowledgeable, capable and caring”
8. Organisational governance “I am confident the organisation is well run. I am a partner in improving the delivery of care and services”