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Aged care – home care in Australia

Currently the waiting time for higher level Home Care Packages is more than 12 months and more than 100,000 older Australians are waiting for their packages to be funded. What is the Government doing to support aged care and how do the Home Care Packages work?

aged care

As part of the October 2020 Federal Budget announcement, the Government announced that it will fund an additional 23,000 Home Care Packages. This will assist in reducing waiting times for those who have been approved for a Home Care Package but how does the funding work?

Government funding

In Australia, the Government subsidises different types of aged care services to cater for older peoples’ needs and to support their carers — usually their family. This is a sensitive and complex area and for more and more Australians is a decision they will need to make for themselves or a family member in the future. It makes sense to understand the process and plan ahead to ensure you and your family members receive the care they need, when they need it.

The most popular government-subsidised programs are the ‘Commonwealth Home Support Programme’ and ‘Home Care’ Packages.

Commonwealth Home Support Programme

The Government’s Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP) can provide ongoing or short-term care and support services including help with housework, personal care, meals and food preparation, transport, shopping, health and social support.

To access the CHSP, you need to have a home support assessment completed by a local assessor from a Regional Assessment Service (RAS)1. The RAS assessor will work with you to develop a support plan that reflects your entry-level aged care needs and preferences.

How to apply

  • Contact My Aged Care for an initial assessment over the phone
  • A RAS assessor will then arrange a full assessment at your loved one’s home and suggest a suitable ‘home support plan’.
  • The assessor can refer you to service providers or you may be given a ‘referral code’ to go directly to your preferred service provider.

Cost

The services provided under this programme are subsidised by the Government and any fees charged are negotiated with the service provider. You don’t need to negotiate the subsidies. However, you may want to shop around as costs will vary between providers.

Arrangements to waive any fees can be made for people in financial hardship.

Home Care packages

If you have more complex care needs at home, you may be eligible for a government-subsidised Home Care Package. An Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT) will assess your Home Care Package needs. In Victoria, this is called Aged Care Assessment Services (ACAS). There are four levels of Home Care Packages to meet an individual’s care needs ranging from basic to high.

As part of this tailored package, you can receive coordinated services such as:

  • home maintenance including gardening, home modifications and cleaning gutters and windows
  • Clinical Nursing Care such as hearing and vision services
  • Allied Health including occupational therapy, physiotherapy, podiatry and speech pathology
  • transport to travel to appointments or activities such as shopping.

How to apply

  • Contact My Aged Care to organise an ACAT assessment and confirm your or your loved ones eligibility.
  • Research home care providers and work out costs.
  • Be assigned a home care package.
  • Enter into a home care agreement with your preferred provider (within 56 days of being assigned).
  • Manage your services if your or your loved one’s needs change.

Long wait times

Generally, the wait time for someone to enter a Level 1 package (the lowest level) is 3–6 months, but for all other levels the wait can be more than 12 months. Under the National Prioritisation System (NPS) places are allocated based on peoples’ individual needs and circumstances and when they were assessed. For instance, someone with less family support may be prioritised over someone with more family support even if they applied later.

Cost

The cost of the Home Care Package will vary depending on the package level and your loved one’s income. An income-tested fee may apply which can be as high as $30.86 per day. This means the cost of the Home Care Package might be anywhere between $3,515 per year to $15,188 per year depending on your loved one’s income.


Package level
Client contribution (per day)
Government subsidy (pa)
Daily care feeIncome-tested fee
Level 1 $9.63 $0 – $30.86 $9,000
Level 2 $10.19 $0 – $30.86 $15,750
Level 3 $10.48 $0 – $30.86 $34,250
Level 4 $10.75 $0 – $30.86 $52,000

Current as at September 2020

Granny flats – an upcoming opportunity

The CHSP and Home Care Packages provide formal care in the home. However, care is also often provided more informally by family and friends. Many older people prefer to live with friends or family to receive care. It also makes it easier for the carer to provide help because they are living in their property.

Some people choose to formalise this living arrangement by entering a ‘granny flat arrangement’. granny flat arrangements are where a person, usually an elderly or disabled person, pays for a right to accommodation for the remainder of their life in another person’s property.

An upcoming incentive to formalise a granny flat arrangement is proposed to start in 2021. Currently, under the existing law, a capital gains tax (CGT) event occurs when a legally enforceable right, such as a granny flat right, is created. That means, any liability falls on the person who grants the right - usually a friend or family member. However, from 1 July 2021, a CGT exemption is likely to be introduced for formal, written granny flat arrangements. Given that the value of granny flat arrangements may be substantial, the potential liability for CGT can be significant and an exemption may be an incentive to enter a formal agreement which protects the rights of the person buying the granny flat right. The exemption will only apply to agreements between family members or between people with close personal ties.

People living in a granny flat arrangement can still receive formal care in the home such as CHSP and Home Care Packages.

Reasons to enter a granny flat arrangement

People interested in creating a granny flat arrangement include those who:

  • wish to transfer funds to other people, generally their relatives, in return for the right to accommodation for life. This is often thought of as providing an early inheritance
  • want to be cared for by others, rather than enter an aged care facility
  • receive government income support and wish to transfer assets to other people, without Centrelink gifting / deprivation occurring.

With wait times so high for aged care services, it’s important that you and your family plan ahead.

Please contact your financial adviser if you need help. If you don’t have an adviser, we can put you in touch with one.

1 The RAS does not operate in Victoria and Western Australia. The My Aged Care contact centre can assist you in these states to find assessors in their local area.