Who can access community care in later life?

As we age, many of us begin to find regular tasks like going shopping or cleaning the house more difficult. Fortunately, there are options that involve a carer  coming to support you so you can take care of yourself and your home.

Referred to as ‘community care’ or ‘home care’, this support can be provided a couple of times per week or on a daily basis. It can include help travelling to social outings, help in the garden, and help with personal hygiene.

Care like this is especially important for older Australians who do not have family members living close by as it allows them to remain living independently.

Who is eligible for community care?

What many people do not realise is that this care is available to all Australian seniors who live on their own and require coordinated care to support their wellbeing.

Aged care providers around the country offer this service in accordance to the required care plans. To find out if you are eligible, the best place to start is with a referral from your doctor. They will ask you how you are managing daily and where you require assistance before connecting you with a local provider.

The cost of community care

As this service is available from all registered Aged Care providers, how do you decide on the cost of your required care?

Paying for essential care in later life is not a black and white equation. How much you pay for aged care services depends on the type of help you need, the provider, your personal financial situation and the package of services you receive. 

With this in mind, take a look at the two funding options to cover the cost of community care:

Government-subsidised community care

There are 4 levels of Home Care Packages – from level 1 for basic care needs to level 4 for high care needs. The Australian Government provides funding for Home Care Packages under the Aged Care Act of 1997 and the Aged Care (Transitional Provisions) Act 1997. The level of care you require is determined through a clinical assessment from a member of the ACAT team.

The total amount of funding in a Home Care Package budget is made up of:

  • Government subsidy, including supplements for specific care needs if a person is eligible
  • basic daily fees, payable by everyone who receives a care package
  • income-tested care fees, payable by people who have income over a certain amount
  • amounts for additional care and services, payable if a person wants extra services that the package funding would not otherwise cover

If you are on a full pension, you will not pay income-tested care fees for your community care. The basic daily fee you pay depends on the services you receive but will be capped at less than the amount of your pension. The fee starts from just over $11 per day, as of September 2021.

If you do have some income, it depends how much that income is. Once you pass a certain threshold, you will have to contribute some funds to the cost of your care.

Here is an example of fees and charges for residential and home care from the Australian Government: CLICK HERE.

In summary, if you are an Australian pensioner and you cannot afford to cover the cost of community care, your package will be subsidised by the government and also be paid for out of your pension. The money will go directly from you from the government to your nominated aged care provider, who will arrange for nurses, carers and other required/requested health care professional to visit you at home. 

Privately funded community care

If you have an income and assets over a certain amount, you will be asked to pay the daily fee as well as the income-tested care fees to have someone visit you at home.

Other people who pay privately for community care do so because they wish to skip the current wait list and don’t want to wait for funding approval, or they require services that are not included in the Australian Government’s home care packages.

You can find out more about the Home Care Packages Program here: CLICK HERE.

What to do next

The cost of community care can feel confusing because there is no exact hourly rate or dollar amount that applies to every individual.

The best thing to do is speak with an Aged Care provider that offers home care services. They will be able to confirm which type of support you need, talk to you about your assets/income and give you an estimate of how much you can expect to pay.

What’s important to remember is that you are likely to be eligible for this support, regardless of your income. Aged care providers such as KOPWA work with the Government to ensure you can access the help you need to enjoy living at home. 

For more information about community care, whether you are eligible and how much it costs, contact KOPWA via www.kopwa.org.