The Home Care Packages Program provides older people who want to stay at home with access to a range of ongoing support services and clinical care that help them with their day-to-day activities. The program is part of the Australian Government’s continuum of care for older people in Australia, providing services between the Commonwealth Home Support Program and residential aged care.
There are four levels of home care packages (HCPs). Each package has an attached budget which can be used to purchase eligible home care goods and services.
A HCP budget is made up of:
- the government subsidy and other eligible supplements,
- the basic daily fee,
- any income-tested care fee, and
- any additional amount agreed to be paid for extra care or services not covered in the package.
A person does not need to take up a HCP if they don’t wish to. Instead, they can pay for any services privately. This is more likely to be the case for self-funded retirees accessing the lower packages where the budget amount is lower or equal to what they will be asked to contribute via the basic daily care fee and income-tested care fee.
However, it’s worthwhile remembering that any home care income-tested fees payable is counted towards a lifetime cap which also carries forward to any future residential aged care means-tested care fee (MTCF).
If home care income-tested fees are paid privately, the person hasn’t contributed anything to this lifetime cap and may therefore be required to pay a greater amount of MTCFs later if they enter residential aged care.
Further, each level of home care package obtains a different Government subsidy. The subsidy contributes to the total cost of the package.
However, a person is also required to contribute to the cost of their package through a basic daily fee and possibly an income-tested care fee.
The types of services that can be purchased under a HCP include (but are not limited to):
- personal services – assistance with activities such as bathing,
- nutrition and diet – assistance with preparing meals and feeding,
- continence management –assistance using continence aids,
- mobility and dexterity – provision of walking sticks, mechanical devices for lifting,
- nursing, allied health and therapy services – speech therapy, occupational therapy,
- transport and personal assistance – assistance with shopping, visiting health practitioners, and
- management of skin integrity – assistance with bandages and dressings.
HCPs cannot be used as a general source of income for items such as day-to-day bills, food or rent.
Importantly, HCP providers can charge administration costs and case management fees which are debited against the available funds in a person’s HCP. Providers can also charge exit amounts (from any unspent package funds) if the person decides to change providers later.
A Home Care Fee Estimator is available on the government website My Aged Care: www.myagedcare.gov.au