Home care explained

A woman in a bright yellow jumper stands and smile at her front door.

Home is a special place. For many of us, it’s where we feel safest and happiest. Understandingly, it’s where most of us would like to grow old, surrounded by photos and memories from a long life well lived.

In order for many older Australians to achieve this goal, they will likely need the support of home care services at some stage. Thankfully, government-subsidised support is available to help more Australians live at home for longer. 

What is home care? 

You might be wondering, how is home care different to aged care? Put simply, home care refers to a range of aged care services that you receive in your own home. This is different to traditional aged care, where a person has moved out of their home and into a residential aged care facility, or nursing home.

The purpose of home care is to support people to continue to live safely and independently in their own home for as long as possible. This may mean that a person receives help with housework, meal preparation or shopping, or even with such daily activities as dressing and showering.

Australia’s federal government subsidises the cost of home care support services, with different levels of care available depending on the amount of care or support you need. 

What is a home care provider? 

An approved home care provider, like AccessCare, is an organisation that has been approved by the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission to deliver Australian Government-subsidised home care services. When you are approved to receive home care services, you will need to choose a home care provider, who will work with you to schedule the services you need to remain living independently at home.

Choosing a home care provider who is accredited is important, as these organisations are legally required to adhere to several criteria. These requirements are in place to help protect home care clients, and ensure that the services they are receiving are safe, accessible and affordable. The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission also has the power to revoke or suspend an organisation’s approval if they fail to meet their quality standards.

To check if a home care provider is approved, you can search for them on the My Aged Care website

How do I access home care services? 

The first thing you will need to do is contact My Aged Care, as they will need to do an assessment to find out more about your personal situation, and the sort of care you may need.

Depending on the outcome of their assessment, you might be eligible for the Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP) or a Home Care Package (HCP). Both of these options are subsidised by the federal government. 

What is the difference between the Commonwealth Home Support Programme and Home Care Packages? 

In short, the Commonwealth Home Support Program is designed for people with low-level care needs, while Home Care Packages are better suited to people with more complex care needs.

You can find out more about both of these funding options on this page

How much does home care cost? 

Whether or not you are required to pay anything for your home care services depends on the type of care you have been approved to receive, the services you require, the home care provider you choose and your financial situation.

If you’ve been approved for the Commonwealth Home Support Programme, you won’t be asked to cover the full cost of your services. You may be required to make a contribution to your provider, but if you cannot afford this, you will still be able to receive the care services you need. You can discuss your options with your home care provider.

If you have been approved for a Home Care Package, you may be required to make a contribution to cover necessary fees. These include:

  • A basic daily fee (this is a small fee that everyone receiving a Home Care Package can be asked to pay)
  • An income-tested care fee (this is an extra contribution that only some people pay as it is based on an income assessment – do note that full pensioners do not pay this fee)
  • A home care fee (only if required by your chosen home care provider for such things as care management – see “What is the difference between care managed and self-managed care?” below)

For more information about what out-of-pocket expenses you may have, please visit the My Aged Care website.

In both cases, the Australian Government covers most of the costs associated with home care. Once you start receiving services, you will receive a personalised budget, which allows you to keep an eye on how much funding is available for your care and how it is being spent. 

You may also be eligible for a supplement to cover additional needs, like dementia and cognition support, oxygen or enteral feeding. AccessCare can apply for these supplements on your behalf. 

What is the difference between care managed and self-managed care?

Providers that offer care management are responsible for the delivery of the services in your Home Care Package. Clients will work closely with their own care manager – or Aged Care Advisor – to manage their budget, find the best service providers to suit their health needs and continuously monitor your progress to ensure you are always receiving the very best support.

Clients who wish to coordinate their own care and manage all of the administrative aspects on their own will likely prefer self-managed care. Typically, care management services will cost more than self-managed services, as providers are offering more hands-on support.

AccessCare feels strongly that focusing on care management is the right choice for our community. Care management, which AccessCare provides through a team of tertiary qualified Aged Care Advisors, is especially useful for people who don’t have family to help them or who find the process of navigating the aged care system on their own to be overwhelming. We know it’s a great comfort for many of our clients to have someone on their side who knows the system and will be able to organise everything on their behalf and take care of the details for them. 

How do I choose a home care provider? 

These days, there is a large number of home care providers on the market. On the one hand, this means you have greater choice than ever before. On the other hand, it can feel a little overwhelming trying to find the provider that is the perfect fit for your unique situation. As such, it’s important you take your time with this decision. Start by making a list of all the things that are most important to you in terms of your care, so that you know what your non-negotiables are.

You can find out more tips and tricks for choosing a home care provider on this page.

More information

If you have any questions about accessing home care, we encourage you to contact AccessCare’s friendly team on 1300 819 200.

You can also find out more information about getting started with home care on this page.