A look at everything you need to consider if you, or a loved one are looking at in-home care.
If an older person can no longer live independently, there are two options for aged care support – partly supported living with in-home care, or moving to fully supported living, these can be referred to as nursing homes, residential care, aged care homes or aged care facilities.
We can assist those who are needing to move to residential care however, this blog will focus on those who choose to live at home but need some support. We have another blog on moving into residential aged care here.
While staying home does allow a certain a level of independence, it can still be confronting experience to allow a stranger into your home to do things you usually do yourself. It could still be preferrable to moving into residential care but that doesn’t mean it is any less complex and can still impact on the emotional well-being of the person receiving the care.
Clients who come to us for Aged Care services are usually the children, or sometimes the spouse of the person needing care. The decision to have a loved one stay at home, while seemingly the easy choice, has some complexities. We’ll discuss these below.
Before making a decision about in-home care, some considerations should be given to the care required, the impact this may have on others and modifications required to the home.
Is the home suitable?
Depending on the health of the person requiring care, the home may no longer be suitable. There may be stairs that can no longer be navigated, ramps that may need to be installed, or walls widened to accommodate a wheelchair. There are also considerations for the long term, if your loved one’s health deteriorates further will a move be required anyway?
What about the family?
Is the home shared with a spouse or other family? How much can they help? Do they need help for themselves? Also consider what help will need to be provided and whether that will impact on their lifestyle.
YOUR HOME OR A NEW HOME?
For some, the idea of keeping the family home in the family is law. However, if your loved one is in ill-health and needing support can they really manage a four-bedroom, two-bathroom home with a large garden? Of course, a house that has been a home to generations can be hard to let go of. The memories of babies first steps, family barbeques and the many scuff marks, injuries and places of joy the home holds can be hard to let go of.
A smaller home may be the better option and the good news is there may be a way to protect the proceeds from the sale of a home through the downsizer program. Moving while your loved one is still fit and healthy means they will have time to get familiar with their surroundings and meet the neighbours before ill health limits these activities.
Another consideration as to whether your loved one should stay in their home is their network. Are they located close to your family and do they visit often? As we age, so do our friends and we find they move away either into care or to be closer to family, or unfortunately pass away. While staying home may be desirable, being alone may not be conducive to good mental health.
SUPPORT AVAILABLE FOR IN-HOME CARE
If your loved one wants to stay in their own home but require some assistance, the government will help with funding through the Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHSP) or through the Home Care Packages Program. Alternatively, there is the option of funding support themselves or if the support required is minor, perhaps a family member can help.
Commonwealth Home Support Program
The first step to accessing the CHSP involves an assessment by Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT), this team will determine both the eligibility and level of support required. This is managed by My Aged Care and is the government’s starting point on the aged care journey.
Once approved, you’ll need to choose a provider and arrange the services you require.
Below are some of the services available through the CHSP:
- Allied health and therapy services such as Podiatry and Physiotherapy
- Goods, equipment and assistive technology such as reading aids and support and mobility aids
- Home maintenance such gardening, major and minor home repairs
- Food services such as preparing food at home and food safety advice or meal delivery
- Transport through direct driver or voucher schemes
- Social support such as visiting or phone calls or social groups
- Domestic assistance such as general housekeeping and linen services
- Home modifications
- Specialised support such as vision and dementia advisory
These services are provided by private companies and not-for profit organisations who receive subsidies from the government to provide these services. The person receiving care will need to pay a contribution or fee and this varies between providers.
Home Care Package Program
Similar services to the CHSP are available however, with the HCPP, the person requiring support determines the services that will be provided as well as the provider. A home care agreement and care plan will be created between the service provider and the person requiring care, this will be reviewed on annual basis. There is a waiting period to access the HCPP as they are in high demand.
As with the CHSP, the government pays most of the cost however for HCPP there will be a basic daily fee (regardless of how often services are provided) and an income-tested fee. It’s worth getting financial advice before you apply for HCPP to determine how you can minimise the loss of any assets.
Fees for the service providers can be found on My Aged Care website.
LONG TERM PLANNING AND CONSIDERATIONS
As we can only guess at how long each of us might live, protecting assets to ensure longevity is important. We will look at the assets and income of the person requiring care and we will consider how to maximise Centrelink entitlements and look at ways to manage cashflow to ensure your loved one can meet their ongoing care and living costs.
Leaving a legacy is important to many people and we can work with you or your loved one to develop an Estate Plan. A good Estate Plan will cover not just assets and how they are distributed, it also includes information about what should happen if you, or your loved one can no longer make decisions for yourself. We can help identify assets that can be left to an estate and that the right beneficiary nominations are in place to ensure all items and assets are distributed as per your wishes.
If you, or someone close to you requires in-home care, then please give us a call. We have advisers who are Accredited Aged Care Professionals and specialise in this area.
It is very important that you understand that the information above is general in nature and does not take into account your personal situation. You should consider whether the information is appropriate to your needs, and where appropriate, seek professional advice from a financial adviser. It is also worth noting that the Australian financial and taxation system is ever changing, and the information above may no longer be relevant. Again, we suggest seeking professional advice from a financial adviser before proceeding.