Home Care Packages Explained

This section covers:
  • The philosophy and need for Home Care Packages
  • What is Consumer Directed Care (CDC)
  • The stages to receiving a HCP
  • Designing a package of care and services suited to you

HCP Philosophy

The philosophy behind the Home Care Packages programme is senior Australians should have access to care services and support to enable them to live in their own home for as long as they are able to and choose to.

Underlying this philosophy is a Government need to reduce the cost to the taxpayer of providing funding for aged care. It is no secret that Residential Care costs the Government coffers much more than Home Care does. Hence, it makes financial sense for the Government to encourage elderly Australians who are deemed eligible for aged care to remain at home for as long as possible. A win for people who wish to remain at home and a win for the Government, financially.

To be able to live at home with appropriate supports, the Government's Home Care Package (HCP) programme is structured to follow a certain process:

  • Get an Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT or ACAS in VIC) to assess a client's mobility, social and health issues and recommend to the Government the amount of funding required to sustain the client at home
  • The recommendation is a ballpark estimation and comes in 4 different "packages", Level 1 to 4. Each Level is assigned a fixed sum of funds. The higher the level, the higher the funds
  • The Government then "assigns" a package to the client when there is a spare package available
  • Once a client has a package they can decide on which Package Provider they would like to manage their services. Note, money is never given to the client directly, instead it is given to a Package Provider who is approved to manage the funds in accordance with Government regulations, compliance and reporting requirements. The client gets to choose who they would like as their Package Provider
  • The Package Provider details the clients needs and goals and the type of services and supports that are required to be in place to meet these needs and goals
  • The services and supports are then organised by the Package Provider and the cost of these supports and services is paid for out of the funds provided by the Government
If you do not currently have a Home Care Package and you need one, the first step is to get an assessment. You can self-recommend for an assessment or you can ask your GP to put in a request on your behalf. To self-recommend you can visit My Aged Care or you can call My Aged Care on 1800 200 422.

After you have been assessed by an ACAT/ACAS team and they have recommended a HCP, you will be placed in a National Priority queue. What this means is you wait for a HCP to become available. It is not simply a matter of first in, best dressed, it also is a matter of priority. When you are assessed as eligible for a HCP by the ACAT/ACAS team, they (the assessors) also make a recommendation of the urgency or priority of their HCP. There are 3 levels of priority, low, medium and high. The higher your priority, the higher you are in the queue, effectively skipping ahead in the queue in front of others who may have been assessed before you.

Consumer Directed Care

Consumer Directed Care or CDC was first introduced by the Government in 2015. The basis of CDC is to enable and empower the client to be involved in the planning and delivery of care and services available via the Home Care Package.

This means the client (if appropriate and if they want) can have more choice and control over what, when and where services are delivered. The Home Care Package Provider must work in partnership with the client to make this happen.

Prior to CDC the client had little choice in what services the Package Provider decided to deliver. This led to a mainly clinical focus on the care needs of the client with little or no involvement from the client. Post-CDC and later through the New Aged Care Standards, the Government has facilitated client involvement in the design of the care services that will be delivered to the client and strongly advocates the dignity of risk.

The principal of "dignity of risk" is that the client, if able, chooses to make an informed decision on what services are suited to their needs even if these choices may differ from their health and safety needs. If denying the right to make choices leads to the clients self-esteem and quality of life being adversely impacted then the client will have been deprived of the dignity of risk.

The Care List strongly supports the principles of Consumer Directed Care and Dignity of Risk. All our clients and their representatives participate in the design of their care plan, the clear articulation of their needs and goals and what services they would like to put in place to enable these objectives to be met. Of course, there is always the limitation of the amount of funds the Government provides based on the HCP level assigned to the client. Where the goals and needs are not being met due to a shortage of funds available, The Care List become an advocate for the client in applying for a higher package level and thus raising the available funds to try and meet the clients goals.

Stages to receiving a HCP

There are 5 stages in the HCP process.
  • Requesting an assessment - you can self-request or your GP or other health practitioner can request an assessment for you
  • Assessment by an ACAT/ACAS team - this usually happens with 3 or 4 weeks of requesting an assessment
  • Approval for a HCP and placement on the National Priority Queue - this usually occurs within 2 or 3 weeks of an assessment
  • Assignment of a HCP - How long it takes to be assigned a package will depend on the level of HCP approved and the priority placed on your need for a HCP. It can take anywhere from 1 year to 2+ years to be assigned a HCP.
  • Engage a HCP Package Provider to manage and co-ordinate your care - you will need to enter into an agreement with a Provider within 56 days from assignment of the HCP, otherwise your package will be assigned to someone else next in the queue.
While there may be a long wait time between Approval and Assignment of a HCP, you may be able to receive urgent services immediately. The ACAT/ACAS assessors will also assign you individual services that you will be able to get from a Commonwealth Home Support Provider (CHSP).

There is great pressure on the Australian Government to increase the number of available HCP as there is a long wait queue of approved clients who are desperate to receive support in order for them to remain at home safely and in comfort.

Don't have a HCP yet? You can use one of the forms below to apply for a HCP.
If you are a GP or a Health Professional then this referral form can be used
If you are family friend, or the person who needs help then use this referral form

Designing a package of care and services suited to you

Once a home care package has been assigned to a client, they have 56 days to find and signup with a Package Provider. Failing to meet this deadline may lead to the offer of a home care package being withdrawn and the available package being offered to the next person in the wait queue. This does not mean that you lose the package forever, you will still be approved for a package but you will re-enter the wait queue for a later package availability.

Assuming you have done your research and engaged a Package Provider, the Package Provider will then do a thorough assessment of your goals and needs and will design a programme of care services to be delivered to you in order to meet your stated goals and needs. As always, the limitations on the number of services and/or its frequency will depend upon the amount of funds available in the HCP.
The process after you have signed up a Package Provider is for the provider to send out a case manager who will be responsible for:

  • Determining your goals and needs
  • Documenting your baseline health and mobility
  • Collecting information on the health professionals involved in your care, e.g. your GP, Physiotherapist and other specialists involved in your health
  • Documenting your likes, hobbies and social needs
  • Suggesting the types of services to allow you meet your goals and needs
  • Checking if there are any current serviees in place and if so who, how and when these services are delivered
  • Consulting with you on a plan to deliver the required services
  • Engaging the necessary support workers or retaining your current support workers (*1) to provide the agreed services
  • On a regular basis checking in with you to see how services are progressing and your health condition and taking appropriate action or increasing care if your health is deteriorating
The client and their representative (if agreed to by the client) are involved in all the stages of planning and delivering their care services.
*1 family members and/or friends who are providing support cannot be paid from the funds in the HCP. The HCP programme is designed to provide additional care and services and act as support for the client and their informal carers, where they are no longer able to manage the duties of providing increasing care to the client. The HCP is not designed to replace the care being provided by family and/or friends nor remunerate them for care provided as a result of familial ties and friendships.