More than 40,000 older Australians could soon be eligible to receive tens of thousands of dollars in government support for in-home aged care services.
A majority if older Australians say they want to age at home rather than enter a residential aged care facility. But getting the level care required can be expensive. Which is why the federal government offers the Home Care Packages Program.
Now, 40,000 additional packages are set to become available before June 2023, taking the total number to more than 275,000. The federal government says the move is based on the recommendations of the 2018 aged care royal commission.
Four categories of assistance are offered, based on the level of care required. Annual funding amounts range from around $9000 to more than $53,000.
To qualify, you must be 65 or older (or 50 years and older for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders). The level of care is determined through a My Aged Care assessment.
Level one offers up to $9179.75 per year and is intended to deliver basic services such as gardening, washing and domestic support.
Level two is up to $16,147.60 per year and covers ‘low-care’ needs that are a little more complex than level one, such as transport or shopping.
At level three, you can get up to $35,138.55 for a more advanced level of care including such things as regular visits from nurses, support with medication and even home modifications such as ramps and rails.
The highest level of government at-home care, level four, is for individuals with ‘high-care’ needs and involves grants of up to $53,268.10 a year for daily medical visits, assistance with social support, cooking, nursing support, cleaning and more.
The services are delivered by third-party providers contracted by the government.
Depending on your income, you may be required to pay a care fee, or co-payment, to the government for your at-home care services. That is determined via a Centrelink assessment.
If you do need to pay, there are annual and lifetime limits on the total amount you can be asked to pay. People on a full Age Pension and those with an income up to $29,234.40 are not expected to pay.
The fee is $16.15 per day if you are single and earning more than $29,234.40; a member of a couple living together who earns more than 22,679.80, or a member of a couple living apart due to illness and earning more than $28,662.40.
The fee jumps to between $16.15 and $32.30 per day if you are single and earning more than $56,295.20; a member of a couple and earning more than $43,076.80, or a member of a couple living apart earning more than $55,723.20.
In addition to the government payment, the third-party care providers are entitled to charge an $11.26 ‘basic daily charge’, although many do not, so it’s worth shopping around.
Could a home care package be useful for you or a loved one? Or does the daily fee still make it too expensive? Let us know in the comments section below.