Image may contain: textLeon Byner (5AA) asked some hard-hitting questions about home care packages on his radio show on 7/8/17. Why are packages so hard to access? How is the government determining priority? How long can people expect to wait for a high care package?

Frail and vulnerable members of our community are waiting (sometimes for many months) to access essential support in their home via high-level home care packages. This can be a very difficult, stressful and dangerous time for people whose care needs may increase and their health can deteriorate whilst waiting for this assistance.

Your Aged Care Companion explained to Leon Byner and listeners that this is a very common complaint we frequently hear from our own clients. We explained to Leon and the listeners that there are actually three major obstacles to accessing aged care packages and these are eligibility, accessibility and affordability. Steve Georganas (MP) also added his voice to the discussion and expressed similar frustration and dissatisfaction with the current system. A number of listeners also called in to vent their frustration and to tell their personal stories about the delays and difficulties they had experienced.

Clearly, this is a significant problem faced by our aging community but what can we do whilst waiting for the government to “fix” things?

Firstly, consider whether a package of care is actually the most appropriate way to address your care needs. Consider the costs involved and the alternatives. Can you wait for a package and how long are you able/prepared to wait?

You will need to have an Aged Care Assessment (ACAT) in order to access a home care package and this needs to be obtained by calling My Aged Care on 1800 200 422. This can take some time.

If you are in receipt of a full pension, you are likely to be charged 17.5% of your pension towards a package of care (this is approx. $114 per fortnight). If you are on a part pension or self -funded retiree, you will be asked to pay even more.

Many services which are provided in a home care package can also be obtained by other means. You have options like private purchase of services or Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP) funded services. In some circumstances (especially if you are a self-funded retiree), these options may be more cost-effective options for you.

Once you have had an ACAT and been advised that you are eligible to receive a package of care, you will need to wait until a package is available. While you are waiting, you may like to accept a lower level package of care than you are actually eligible for and top up the services with CHSP or private purchase.

And there are still more alternatives available to you!!! If you need help navigating aged care services or you would like to discuss costs and options, call Your Aged Care Companion on 8332 8409 to book an appointment. If you are in crisis now, we are available to take your call any time and we can even arrange emergency residential respite for you on the same day to provide relief while we work with you to explore strategies and options to help you manage into the future.