My Mum is 87 years of age and lives on her own, in her own home. Over the past few months, I have noticed that her ability to look after herself has declined, although certainly not to the extent where I am considering placing her in residential aged care.
However, she has slowed considerably. She is not eating as well as she used to or should be, her ability to clean her little home is not too the standard it needs to be, she is becoming a little forgetful and she certainly needs help showering after breaking her hip earlier this year.
I do live close so I can provide some assistance, however, as I am still working, my ability to provide this assistance is severely limited.
So, what are my options?
As a first step, I can research the services available through the Commonwealth Home Support Program.
Before Mum can avail herself of this service, she needs to talk to a local assessor from the Regional Assessment Service. This person will speak to Mum about the care she requires and will develop a comprehensive support plan to assist and make her life a little easier.
The services available through the Commonwealth Home Support Program are very comprehensive covering domestic assistance, personal care, home maintenance, transport, social support, and importantly from my perspective, food services, helping her shop, cook and delivering meals to her at home.
A couple of very important points regarding the Commonwealth Home Support Program is that even though the government subsidies a range of services available through this program, you do not need an income assessment – the fees you pay are negotiated between yourself and the provider. Secondly, an assessment carried out by the Regional Assessment Service is quite different and not as comprehensive as an assessment carried out by the Aged Care Assessment Team.
If Mum’s health continues to decline and the support she requires at home becomes more complex, the next step would be an assessment by the Aged Care Assessment Team or if you are in Victoria, the Aged Care Assessment Services.
These teams will provide a written assessment of the help required and make a recommendation as to the level of support a person is eligible to receive. The levels are as follows:
Level 1 supports people with basic needs
Level 2 supports people with low-level care needs
Level 3 supports people with intermediate care needs
Level 4 supports people with high-level care needs
The government provides a different amount of subsidy for each level. This amount is paid to the provider that you select. The subsidy contributes to the cost of the service and care, however, depending on your circumstances, you will be required to contribute to the cost of this care.
Your level of contribution will depend on the financial details provided by you to either Centrelink or Veterans Affairs. They will assess your circumstances and based on a complicated formula, advise you in writing of your daily financial contribution. This income-tested amount is on top of the standard contribution of $10.17 per day, which everyone pays regardless of his or her finances.
Unfortunately, the process is not as easy as it could be. Depending on the level of support needed, a person could be placed in a national queue and have to wait before a home care package becomes available. I would suggest that if this were to occur it would be prudent to research the providers in your area, who are able to provide the services outlined in the written assessment provided to you by the Aged Care Assessment Team.
My Mum is not keen on residential aged care and I suspect she is not alone. People in their later years no doubt remain happier and a little more active living in their own homes.
So, I believe that if we are able to provide the care and assistance to a person in the home either through the Commonwealth Home Support Program or one of the levels of the Home Care Packages, this should always be the first option and not Residential Aged Care.