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When people think of aged care, their thoughts turn to nursing homes and traditional residential aged care environments. However, a lot is changing in the aged care space and it’s giving families and seniors more choice when it comes to finding aged care options to suit their needs.

Home care

Home care is an area that has received a funding boost from the Federal Government as a way to support more seniors wishing to remain in their own home. The Commonwealth Government funds two different packages.

The Commonwealth Home Support package is entry level support at home and can be used to help with housework, meals, personal care, shopping and transport.

The larger pool of funds goes towards the Home Care Package Program, which provides support for people with higher level care needs to allow them to continue living independently in their own home.

The Home Care Package Program allows you to tailor a coordinated range of care and services to help you meet your care and lifestyle needs. These services include personal care, nursing, allied health and other clinical services and care coordination.

There are four levels of Home Care Packages from Level 1 for basic care needs up to Level 4 for high-level care, each attracting a different amount of funding. This funding is paid to your home care provider who then delivers your care according to a personal care plan.

To start the process of getting a home care package, you need to register with My Aged Care by calling 1800 200 422. The call centre staff will ask a range of questions to check whether you’d be eligible for a home care package and then refer you to the Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT, ACAS in Victoria) who will come to you and complete an in-home assessment to identify whether you have high or low-level care needs.

Once you’re assessed and approved to receive a care package, you can choose a home care package provider. My Aged Care’s website has a service finder where you can find home care providers in your area. Envigor, Season’s care partner, is also a home care provider within the larger community, who can work with you to deliver your care at home. Visit the Envigor website for details.

Pros

  • Ability to stay in your own home environment where you are comfortable
  • Choice of care provider
  • A tailored care package that suits your assessed care needs as well as your lifestyle
  • A good initial aged care step to help you with things when they’re beginning to get difficult.

Cons

  • Waiting lists for packages could mean you’ll receive a package that is below you’re assessed care needs. This can leave you with a care gap that may make staying at home harder.
  • Social isolation can still occur, especially in cases where mobility and cognitive skills are affected.
  • No 24-hour care

Nursing homes/Residential aged care

Residential aged care facilities, otherwise known as aged care or nursing homes, are what many people think of when they think about aged care.

Nursing homes and residential aged care facilities focus on clinical-based care for older people unable to live independently in their own homes. According to GEN Aged Care Data, 73 per cent of people using aged care in Australia are in residential aged care.

While all aged care homes are owned and operated by organisations that have been approved by the Australian Government to provide care, how they deliver that care and the facilities and accommodation on offer can vary from facility to facility.

A good starting point is to call My Aged Care and arrange for a residential ACAT assessment. Once you’ve received a letter to say that you are approved as eligible for residential aged care, you can start looking for and applying to aged care homes.

There is an Aged Care Homes Finder on the My Aged Care website that can help you find nursing homes in your area. You can then visit a variety of facilities to find the one that best suits your needs.

Each residential aged care facility will have a different feel and way they do things, so visiting them will help you to find out what you can expect. You’ll also be able to see what the accommodation is like, and what types of care, services and activities they offer.

In residential aged care, all residents pay a basic daily fee of 85% of the Australian single aged care pension. Depending on your circumstances, you may also need to pay an additional care fee and an accommodation charge for your room.

The additional care fee and accommodation charge are means tested by the Australian Government’s Department of Human Services. They will review your income and assets and advise you if you need to pay either fee and what the upfront and ongoing fees will be.

Pros

  • 24-hour care focused on high care needs
  • Government subsidises the cost of care

Cons

  • Means-tested care fees means it’s not always an affordable option for those with higher income and assets
  • Less personalisation and transparency when it comes to care plans
  • More institutionalised, hospital-like environment
  • Couples can’t stay together

Aged care communities

A growing area of the aged care market, and where we at Seasons fit in, is the hybrid model – most often referred to as aged care communities.

Aged care communities offer independent living apartments paired with aged care services that are delivered through a combination of Home Care Packages and a pay for service model.

Aged care communities combine the comfort of living in a homely environment with the peace-of-mind that comes from living in a secure gated community with 24-hour care available. The emphasis is on allowing residents to live as independently as possible with care at hand to help with what they’re starting to struggle with.

This is an ideal option for people who don’t feel quite ready for aged care but are already having some difficulty living in their own home, including feeling socially isolated.

Aged care communities encourage couples to stay together, so this a great option if one person in a couple has higher care needs but they don’t want to live apart. Small pets are also welcome, which can also be a big bonus for those whose pets are also part of the family. Aged care communities also offer accommodation that feels more like home, sometimes up to two or three-bedroom apartments that allow residents to have visitors stay.

Residents who are eligible for a home care package can bring this with them to Seasons and Envigor’s Care Services Manager in your chosen community can work with you and your family to create a personalised care plan that will deliver all the care you need, when you require it, all delivered in the privacy of your own home.

Seasons also has the industry-leading addition of a personal care fund and Equity Security Program to help top up your care over and above your Government Home Care Package if required. Other aged care communities such as Freedom Aged Care work in a similar way but may have a different way of delivering the care element and structuring their ingoing, ongoing and outgoing costs.

RELATED CONTENT: Find out more about the Seasons’ difference.
Tracey Silvester from Envigor discusses different aged care options:

Another difference with aged care communities is the emphasis on lifestyle, with additions such as a timetable of lifestyle and social events and large common areas where residents can congregate and also meet with family and friends. There is more of an open-door policy for visitors, rather than set visiting times.

Pros

  • Home-style environment with peace of mind that comes with community living
  • Ability to move in together as a couple
  • More lifestyle options with a focus on independence and choice
  • Personalised care plans
  • Outings and social gatherings to promote wellbeing and friendships

Cons

  • Need to have enough finances to cover up-front initial contribution

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Connect With Me
Belinda Peters
Belinda brings more than 17 years experience in journalism to her role as Seasons Digital Content Writer. As our blog editor, Belinda will take the confusion out of aged care with entertaining and informative stories from across the aged care industry and our Seasons communities.