The Commonwealth Home Support Programme

Commonwealth Home Support Programme

Article by 

Lucy Pearson

Australians are living longer and healthier lives. On 30 June 2020, Australia’s population was comprised of approximately 16% of people over the age of 65. By 2066, this figure is expected to grow to up to 23% (ABS 2019). To support older people to live independently in their own homes, the Commonwealth government introduced several significant reforms to home care in the 2015-16 Budget with the key objective to provide choice to those who remain in their own homes. In this article we explore the benefits of the Commonwealth Home Support Programme.

Consumers of these programs can choose where they live – perhaps in the original family home or a downsized, easy-to-maintain residence. They may reside with family, or even live in a retirement community setting – and still access care. The care comes to them, rather than in residential aged care.

Unfortunately, the demand for these services often exceeds supply. A common theme throughout the Royal Commission into Aged Care established in 2018 found that waiting times for these services ranged from seven months for lower-level supports, all the way up to 34 months with the highest levels of need (Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety Final Report 2021).

At We Plan Aged Care, we often get asked about the differences between the Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP), and My Aged Care Home Care packages, level 1 – 4. There are some key differences between the Commonwealth Home Support Programme and My Aged Care Home Care packages that consumers need to know about before making a decision.

Commonwealth Home Support Programme

Commonwealth Home Support Programme

The Commonwealth Home Support Programme is designed to assist consumers with basic care needs. It’s an entry-level service focused on supporting older people to maintain independence, health and safety at their home of choice and allow recipients to continue to be connected to their own community.

These supports are generally in areas such as housework, personal care, meals, shopping, allied health, social support, and planned respite, although it’s important to note that both programs currently offer limited allied health support.

Costs for Commonwealth Home Support Programme

Providers of Commonwealth Home Support Programme services receive funding from the Commonwealth which they use to provide subsidised services to their participants. Most people in receipt of these services will pay a contribution towards the cost of their care if they can afford to do so.

Commonwealth Home Support Programme services are provided by a range of organisations such as community services, local government councils, and private operators. It is important to note that there are far more users of Commonwealth Home Support Programme than Home Care Packages. According to the Royal Commission Findings, the most used service in 2018-19 was Commonwealth Home Support Programme (841,000 people), compared to residential aged care (243,000 people) and Home Care Packages (133,000 people).

Home Care Packages

For more complex needs, a Home Care Package may be more appropriate. Home Care Packages operate under the tenets of ‘Consumer Directed Care’, meaning that people can choose their own provider to deliver their services. They can also choose to change providers. There are four levels of assistance from basic care needs to high care needs. The objective of Consumer Directed Care aims to provide consumers with greater flexibility in determining what supports they need on a more personal basis, and they are encouraged to draw up a care plan with their provider. Recipients of Home Care Packages can also choose to self-manage their packages.

A range of co-ordinated services can be provided under a home care package, including assistance with personal care and activities of daily living, support services (such as cleaning, gardening, transport, home maintenance, social support, and respite care), some aids and equipment, and clinical care.  Home care level 3 and 4 packages have a greater emphasis on delivering complex care in the home, including more clinical care where required. In essence, a Home Care Package is designed for people who may require assistance beyond what the Commonwealth Home Support Programme can provide.

It is important to note that a Home Care Package cannot be used for items that are considered private or domestic in nature, or services that can be accessed through other programs that an individual might be eligible for.

COSTS FOR HOME CARE PACKAGES

The costs of home care packages can be complex and confusing to understand. Will you have an income-tested fee to pay? What will you be left with to spend on services once you pay the various administration and plan management costs? Which provider will you select? These are all areas that We Plan Aged Care can assist with, however the basic budget amounts are shown below:

There are four levels of home care package, with level 1 being for consumers with low-level needs, to level 4 for consumers with higher or more complex needs.

Once a package and level has been assigned to you, you will need to engage with a home care provider to administer the package funds – these aren’t given directly to the recipient.

The total budget amount assigned in comprised of government subsidies and client contributions, such as the basic daily fee and income-tested fee. These amounts are current on 17 August 2023:

LevelTotal budget per annum
Level 1 – Basic$14,242.30
Level 2 – Low$22,261.35
Level 3 – Intermediate$43,628.45
Level 4 – High$64,024.65

It is important to note that some providers may choose to waive the Basic Daily Fee. If this happens, this will reduce the budget amounts above. We have simplified the budget amounts below, however it is imperative you seek further information from Services Australia prior to taking up a home care package to see if you may have to contribute based on your income.

Accessing Services

Older people who need support in home are encouraged to phone My Aged Care on 1800 200 422 to start the process. You can also register online at www.myagedcare.gov.au/apply-online

Eligibility criteria for supports in home are as follows:

  • The applicant must be 65 years or older (or 50 years and older for Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people), or
  • 50 years or older and on a low income, homeless, or at risk of homelessness (or 45 years and older for Aboriginal and Torrs Strait Islander people), and
  • Have an assessment that will determine what specific services you need assistance with.

The registration process takes around 20 minutes and will consist of various questions about the needs of the individual, such as health and safety concerns, what support they have currently, and how the person is managing at home. You can have a friend or family member assist, or another representative that understands your situation and needs. You will generally need your Medicare card handy as well.

From here, this will either result in a referral to a Regional Assessment Service (RAS) to assess entry-level needs such as the Commonwealth Home Support Programme and referral codes for allied health programs, or may progress to an Aged Care Assessment Service (ACAS/ACAT) referral for a home care package.

At We Plan Aged Care, we can assist you or your loved one with this process. Feel free to contact us on 03 8526 8961 for support or by visiting our website at www.weplanagedcare.com.au

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