It’s unfortunate that personal financial circumstances can play a role in deciding the type and level of aged care available to you. However, government subsidies help to take some of the sting out of aged care costs. This article provides a helpful guide of what’s available to whom – and what costs you may incur personally.

About government subsidies

The federal government subsidises many aged care services in order to keep costs as affordable as possible. The costs vary depending on type of care and service provider accessed. Those who are eligible for subsidies are expected to contribute to the cost of their care if they can afford to.

Subsidies are available for both Home Care and for care in an Aged Care Home.

Government subsidies help to take some of the sting out of aged care and widen the choices considerably.

Home Care subsidies

There are two main government programs that provide financial assistance for home care. They are the Commonwealth Home Support Programme and Home Care Package Program.

The Commonwealth Home Support Programme helps older people with low need live as independently and safely as possible at home.

You may be eligible if you are:

  • having trouble doing everyday activities without help, and
  • need support to live independently in the community

and are:

  • 65 years or older (50 years or older and identify as an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person) or
  • 50 years or older (45 years or older for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people) and on a low income, homeless or at risk of being homeless.

Services provided come under several categories:

  • Community and home support
  • Meals and food services
  • Allied health support services
  • Respite care
  • Help with care and housing.

The Australian Government’s Home Care Package Program helps people live independently in their own home for as long as they can. There are four levels of Home Care Packages. Each level of Home Care Package provides a different subsidy amount.

The four package levels are structured as follows:

PackagesAged care services for people with:Yearly subsidy up to approximate* value of
1Basic care needs$8,000
2Low-level care needs$14,500
3Intermediate care needs$32,500
4High-level care needs$49,500

 

Among the services available under the Home Care Package program are:

  • Assistance with bathing, showering, toileting, dressing, mobility and communication, and medical needs
  • Assistance preparing meals and with feeding
  • Assistance in using continence aids and appliances
  • Provision of mobility equipment such as crutches, walking frames, mechanical devices for lifting, bed rails, pressure-relieving mattresses, and assistance with the use of these aids
  • Services involving speech therapy, podiatry, occupational or physiotherapy services, hearing and vision services
  • Assistance with shopping, visiting health practitioners and attending social activities
  • Video conferencing and digital technology to increase access to timely and appropriate care
  • Aids, equipment and devices that assist a person to perform daily living task.

CareAbout can help you understand Home Care subsidies further and talk to you about how to maximise the subsidies you receive.

Aged Care Home subsidies

The first thing to note is that federal government assistance is not provided for care in all Aged Care Homes. There are many privately funded aged care housing options that are not approved providers of aged care services and are therefore not funded by the government.

You may be eligible for government subsidised care in an Aged Care Home if you are:

  • an older person who can no longer live independently at home
  • a younger person with a disability, dementia or other special care needs that are not met through other specialist services.

However, be aware that if you assessed as having lower care needs you may need to pay extra for some services, such as:

  • equipment to assist moving and mobilising
  • goods to assist with toileting management
  • specialised nursing services
  • bedding materials such as bed rails.

Home Care fees

Despite government subsidies, there are still some fees that may need to be paid to home care service providers.

There are three main types of fees:

  • basic daily fee: which everyone can be asked to pay
  • income-tested care fee: determined by the Department of Human Services
  • additional fees: for additional care or services not covered by your Home Care Package.

Aged Care Home fees

Despite government subsidies, there are still some fees that may need to be paid to Aged Care Home service providers.

There are four main types of fees:

  • basic daily fee: covers living costs such as meals, power and laundry
  • means-tested care fee: determined by the Department of Human Services and is a contribution towards the cost of your care
  • accommodation costs: determined by the Department of Human Services based on the facilities fees, and an assessment of your income and assets.
  • fees for extra and additional services: particularly if you choose a higher standard of accommodation or extra services above your assessed care needs.

My Aged Care – getting assessed

Whether you are seeking Home Care or entering an Aged Care Home, the first step toward finding out exactly what you’re eligible for is to contact the Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT or ACAS in Victoria). The assessor, usually a nurse, social worker or other health care professional, will visit you in your home and ask questions to ascertain if you are eligible for:

  • a home care package
  • residential care in an aged care home
  • residential respite care
  • short-term restorative care
  • transition care

and also determine what other services that you may need.

The assessor will ask questions about:

  • what support you already have and if that will continue
  • your health and lifestyle and any health concerns
  • how you are going with completing daily tasks and activities around the home
  • if you have problems with your memory
  • any issues relating to home and personal safety
  • family and community engagement.

The assessor will then develop a support plan that will set out the care and services that will best help you and if the services are ongoing or short term.

Does it all sound daunting?

Navigating costs, fees and subsidies in the Australian aged care system can appear daunting. Fortunately there are people who can help provide information and discuss your personal circumstances at no cost, such as CareAbout. You can also contact the federal Government’s My Aged Care.