About Home Care
What can Home Care Package funds be used for?
Researching Home Care Packages can be confusing and understanding what your package covers is tricky. We break down what Home Care Package funds can be used for and how you decide what you need.
February 17th, 2021
Caitlin Wright for CareCompare
Your Home Care Package – your choice
When it comes to deciding how to use a Home Care Package it’s hard to understand all the options and what you or your loved one need. What can Home Care Package funds be used for? Here we break it down for you.
What Home Care Package funding includes
My Aged Care says you or your loved one can use package funding for anything in three categories.
According to their website, they are:
- Services to keep me well and independent.
Examples include personal care like showering, therapy such as speech therapy or physiotherapy, help with meal preparation and specialist support services like dementia advisory services.
- Services to keep me safe in my home.
Examples include cleaning and garden maintenance, minor home modifications such as installing railings in the shower, and mobility equipment like walkers.
- Services to keep me connected to my community.
Examples include transport services and social support services such as a visitor to make home calls or a companion for appointments and community outings.
What can Home Care Package funds be used for?
You’ll probably agree the guidelines above are pretty broad. They have changed over the years, and the focus should now be on giving clients freedom to make their own care choices.
According to Nicole Dunn, director of Empower Aged Care Consulting, that flexibility is deliberate.
“Clients are being respected as the expert on their own care, and providers are supporting clients to make their own decisions about the care they receive,” she said.
As a result, choosing what you use funds for is something you need to think about and is going to be different for everyone. You might already have a fairly good idea of some services needed – perhaps the gardening is too challenging or getting to the shops not as easy as it used to be. You might need specialist support like financial planning support or vision or hearing-impaired help.
According to COTA Australia, the list can be as broad as basic cooking classes to help diet diversity. Or a support worker who can help you or your loved one use the internet or read a book. Even a one-off purchase like an iPad may help you or your loved one stay connected to family and friends.
When you’ve decided on a Home Care Package provider, it’s important to sit down with them and discuss what you or your loved one’s needs are. They should develop a detailed care plan which will include goals and ways to improve independence and safety. This is a good time to discuss all the different ways to utilise your package.
What if the provider denies a request?
While there is a renewed focus to give older people freedom to choose how to access funds, unfortunately it’s not always that easy. There are providers out there that make it difficult, even if the request seems to clearly fit in one of My Aged Care’s three categories.
Tim Handley has been trying to get a home care package for his 81-year-old Dad for the past few years.
“He’s getting to that age where he’s got a lawn that needs mowing, cleaning that needs to get done. He’s got a few medical conditions that are restricting him,” he said.
It took two years for his Dad to get approved for the package and one of the first things he asked for was a personal alarm so his Dad could easily get help in the case of an emergency.
“He was told he could get it using his home care package but they had to check, they weren’t 100% sure… I kept being told I need to talk to someone else,” Tim explained.
In the end, he was approved for the alarm but the bureaucratic process was time consuming.
Ultimately, as long as the request is for something that isn’t on the restricted list (more on this later) then you should be approved. If the provider isn’t playing ball, you have the right to vote with your feet and find another one.
What if my needs change?
Fortunately, Home Care Packages can adjust over time when your needs change.
Naveena Nekkalapudi’s father developed an autoimmune condition in 2007 which meant he dramatically lost mental and physical capacity. He went into transition care after leaving hospital as he was learning to walk again. A case manager suggested he get assessed for home care packages so he could eventually return home.
“They gave him a level 4 package because of his high care requirements. We’d have someone come and bathe him every day.”
Over time, however, Subra’s condition improved and he could do more for himself.
“So, we changed the package requirements. He went to exercise classes to improve his mobility, and we arranged for him to be driven to the exercise places…. He didn’t need showering anymore, so we arranged more respite care. Then we started getting a cleaner, so mum had less to do... We got someone to take them shopping, so they were more self-reliant.”
Later on, they cut back on some services in order to use their funding to get Subra a mobility scooter so he could get around more easily.
As service providers often specialise in different areas of need, it’s wise to consider changing providers when these needs change. With CareCompare, you can easily look at the providers in your area to see who can better meet your needs.
What can’t Home Care Package funding be used for?
There are some caveats to what you can spend the funding on. You can't spend your funds on:
- Personal income
- Purchase of food (except for enteral feeding requirements)
- Rent or mortgage payments
- Home care fees
- Paying for other types of care funded by the Australian Government
- Home modifications that aren’t related to your care
- Entertainment such a club memberships and tickets
- Payment for services covered under the Medicare Benefits Schedule or the Pharmaceutical benefits scheme
How do you know whether a purchase or service will be eligible?
When you’re thinking about how to use your home care package funding, there are a few things to consider:
- Is it covered under the three main guidelines – ‘services to keep me well and independent, services to keep me safe in my home and/or services to keep me connected to my community?’
- Is it not listed as a restricted item?
- Is there enough money in the package to cover it (you should receive a monthly statement from your provider so you’re up to date)?
If it passes all these requirements, get in touch with Home Care Package provider and request to have it added to your Care Plan. You have the freedom to make your own care choices and if you or your loved one aren’t getting the right services, you might want to consider a new provider.
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