Georgia Dixon


What you need to know about in-home aged care

What you need to know about in-home aged care

With over three decades of experience in the Aged Care and Disability Care industries, Danielle Robertson mainly works with financial advisers and planners, accountants, lawyers and estate planners, social workers and GP’s navigating and assisting their patients, family or friends with options for aged care.

You’ve made the decision you want to stay home for as long as you can. Now the work begins: How do you go about obtaining the right care and assistance? How will you know how much it will cost? What sort of care and assistance do you need? Do you need someone to guide and assist you through the maze?

With the changes being made to the Government funding, the care provider will no longer be receiving the funding to disburse services as they see fit but it will be the consumer in charge of their own funds (Consumer Directed Care) and the consumer will decide which provider they would like to use with total flexibility to suit their needs.

Firstly, a comprehensive care needs assessment needs to be undertaken. It can be performed by ACAT (Aged Care Assessment Team) organised via the My Aged Care website. This is Government funded. It often has wait lists and covers only the consumers care needs. Alternatively, an assessment can be undertaken by a private assessor or placement consultant who charges a fee for their service.

The private assessor “assessment and overview” is more of a holistic approach and does not just cover the care needs, but also the social and psychological needs and wants of the consumer. As well as looking at their physical abilities to undertake their activities of daily living (bathing, dressing, toileting, feeding, transportation to appointments etc), the private assessor looks at their social likes and dislikes. The assessment also includes a review of the environment and accommodation that they are living in. Ensuring that, if required, there is there room for a carer, whether the bathroom has got adequate access, whether there are ramps, rails or other equipment required. The home is now regarded as a workplace and a risk assessment is undertaken at the time of the assessment. The home needs to be safe not only for the consumer but the carers they have in their home.

After the assessment there are various considerations as to whether you are entitled to a home care package. Your level of care, eligibility, area you reside in and the service provider you select all determines if you are able to obtain a Government Funded package. Some providers have waitlists. Service providers are not allowed to charge you if you are added to a waitlist.

Essentially the support the Government offers is minimal. Depending on the provider you select, case management and admin fees, even the highest level of funding (ie: ‘level 4’) for in home care only allows for approximately between 10 – 20 hours a week of assistance (depending on the care provider’s fees and charges).

If you want or need additional care, it is likely that you will need to finance that yourself. Usually this is achieved via cash reserves, assets, superannuation, investments or family funding. Although, it is not uncommon for the family to provide ‘hands on’ supplementary care themselves.

You also need to be aware of and consider your legal obligations in relation to wills, an Enduring Guardian or Power of Attorney. A good estate planner/lawyer should be able to assist you with these documents. If a life event occurs and there is no Power of Attorney or Enduring Guardian appointed, it means another whole process dealing with the Guardianship Board before anything else can happen. Should your physical or mental capacity alter, you will need someone to act on your behalf. Be prepared!

It is a good idea to speak with your trusted financial advisers or accountants about your personal finances and how much money you will have available to spend on your care. It is essential to know beforehand so that the care can be tailored not only for your care needs as well as for your financial situation and lifestyle requirements. The amount and type of care you get for your money is worked out once care needs are assessed and cash flow forecasts are undertaken. Every consumer is different.

Often the questions posed to the advisers are “Will I have enough money to last my lifetime?”  “Do I need to sell the family home or an investment property?” “Can I remain at home with care?” “Do I need to obtain equity release from my home to enable me to remain at home with care?”

Some forward thinking advisers are running consumer seminars, morning teas, lunches, or evening events and get speakers in to discuss care options available to them. If your advisers are not offering this value added service, ask them to consider it. Advisers need to work with the consumers and aged care navigators to see what the consumer can afford and what they really need and want.

For in home care, we work with the consumer directly alongside their adviser to navigate the most appropriate and accredited care provider for their needs. We attend family meetings with the advisers, the consumer and the providers and after the meeting discuss the pros and cons of each provider with the consumer, their families and advisers. We act as a conduit between the care provider and the family.  We can “hand hold” the consumer each step of the way and provide them with peace of mind knowing it’s their choice where to age.

Accessing in home care is a minefield. There are literally thousands of care providers out there – how do you choose a good one? If you wish to navigate the process yourself, undertake the following:

  • Check the care provider’s website and read their testimonials
  • Find out how long they’ve been operating in business
  • Do they have commercial premises or do they work from home on a mobile phone?
  • What geographical areas do they cover?
  • Are they accredited?
  • Do they work with culturally and linguistically diverse consumers?
  • Do they have Home Care packages in your area?
  • Do they work with the LGBTI community?
  • Do they offer registered nursing care and end of life care?
  • Do they have qualified carers?
  • Can they assist with complex care needs?
  • Can they provide care from hourly through to 24 hours a day, 7 days a week?
  • Do they employ their carers or do they use contractors?
  • Do they answer their phone professionally and call back when they say they will?
  • Have you heard good reports about the provider from other people?
Now is the time to really think about your wishes, wants and needs for later in life.

Find more at Danielle Robertson Consulting.

What plans have you made for the future? Would you consider in-home care? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

Related links:

How to get the best hospital care

Tips to cope with losing independence with age

How to make your home more age-friendly

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