Posted on Jun 23, 2016
As Australia’s seniors have access to improved medical interventions and adopt healthier lifestyles, the average age for entry into an aged care home has jumped to 83. The vast majority of Australia’s seniors are choosing to stay in their own homes or downsizing to more suitable housing rather than seeking residential care. This means that Australians have greater control over their aged care decisions, including home care services.
If you are planning to remain at home for most of your senior years, new Consumer Directed Care (CDC) policies allow for a range of options. Until recently, packages were given to service providers and you were forced to find a provider which had the package on offer in your area. Now, you will be able to choose the services you need and decide who will provide them. This gives you considerable choice and control over your aged care requirements. Under this system, you can change providers at your discretion if you are dissatisfied with your current service.
The new Australian home care packages have been streamlined to make your decision-making easier. Those who are eligible for government assistance will be assessed by an Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT), consisting of health care professionals and social workers. They will determine the level of assistance you need, outline the types of services which will be subsidised and provide a list of possible providers in your area.
There are four types of home care packages. The packages vary from Level One which offers very basic care to Level Four which caters for those who need high-level care, including dementia sufferers. Once the ACAT team has allocated you a level, you and your caregiver can determine which particular services you prefer. Those with low-level care needs may simply require social support and occasional transport. Higher level packages can include home modification and nursing care.
Every senior has a unique care situation. If you have a family member who performs a wide range of caregiving duties, you may only require occasional assistance in order to give your caregiver some respite. On the other hand, if you live independently, you may need regular help with home duties and maintenance. The CDC system allows you to make choices which suit you rather than having to adapt to a “one size fits all” program.
Those seniors who elect to pay for in-home care themselves will also benefit from these reforms. Providers will be forced to deliver high-quality services in order to remain competitive. This will result in better value and a greater range of choices, even if you are not on a home care package. As a consumer, you will hold negotiating and bargaining power in the marketplace, allowing you to find the ideal service.
These reforms take place from February 27, 2017. If you are currently making plans for your senior years, make sure you and your caregiver research the home care services available. This improved system is designed to keep you comfortably and affordably in your own home for many years to come.
Image credit: "Enchanting Older Generations" (cropped) by Michael Coghlan. (Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic)