Home care packages.
Home care packages are a more holistic form of care than the CHSP. They can be tailored to meet clients’ personal needs with the help of case management, known as Consumer Directed Care (CDC). Services which can be chosen by the client include personal care, support services and clinical services.
Access to a home care package is by approval from an Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT), or Aged Care Assessment Service (ACAS) in Victoria, which like a RAS assessment can be organised by contacting My Aged Care. An ACAT/ACAS assessment can approve an individual for Level 1 (basic care needs) up to Level 4 (high-level care needs).
With the growth in aged care demand and the Government support for care at home, home care packages saw significant growth and change through 2016-17. The number of home care consumers as at 30 June 2017 was 71,423, an increase of 7,354 or 11.5% from 30 June 2016, with the average age of entry being 80.2 years (unchanged from 2015-16). Furthermore, the number of operational providers of home care grew during 2016-17 from 496 to 702, representing a 41.5% increase, of which the majority were not-for-profit organisations (81.5%).
Further to the 1 July 2014 aged care reforms, on 27 February 2017 the Australian Government introduced the Increasing Choice in Home Care reforms. This included key evolutions for home care advice such as the national prioritisation system and the portability of home care packages.
As at 30 September 2017 there were 101,508(2) ACAT/ACAS approved persons waiting in the queue for either their first home care package or on an interim package. An interim package is the term used for recipients who are receiving a package on a lower level than they are approved for and therefore remain in the queue waiting for their approved level. 40.2% (2) of those in the queue at 30 September 2017 were on an interim package. Whilst the statistics regarding the length of the queue are not available, Mr Wyatt commented in September 2017 that ‘across the nation it’s 12 months plus(3). Clients can check their My Aged Care portal or call My Aged Care to check their individual expected wait time.
With the changes to the portability of home care packages, exit fees have become a consideration for home care recipients when they leave a home care package. Care recipients are entitled to have their portion of any unspent funds refunded minus exit fees. The average exit fee providers’ charge is $279(2). Each provider’s maximum exit fee is required to be available on the My Aged Care website and the fee must be stated in a client’s care agreement.
Additionally, after the recent changes the report confirms the current fees which a home care recipient may be required to pay:
Basic daily fee – the maximum is 17.5% of the single rate of the base Age Pension.
Income-tested care fee – paid by those assessed as having sufficient income to contribute to the cost of their care.
In cases where the client’s need for care increases, it’s important to consider how this could affect the client’s cash flow.
Strategies to reduce a client’s assessable income can help to reduce their income-tested care fee and improve cash flow, such as:
Investment in Challenger CarePlus
Investment bond held in a trust
Investing in exempt assets such as funeral bonds
Gifting within the allowable limits.
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(2) Home Care Packages Program Data Report 1 July – 30 September 2017
(3) Interview on 5AA Adelaide, Mornings with Leon Byner – 15 September 2017