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Help at home explained

Australians are living longer than ever before and most people want to stay in their own home and continue to be part of their community as they age. But living independently can become harder as you get older and most older people will need some sort of assistance with daily living at some stage.

Last updated: July 11th 2022
Mature aged daughter with her arm around her elderly mother, both looking into the camera smiling (Source: Shutterstock)
Getting help at home will enable you to continue living independently for as long as possible (Source: Shutterstock)

Key points:

  • Receiving care in your own home can make you feel more comfortable and safe while getting support
  • There are four different levels of care you can receive through the Home Care Package programme
  • What services you receive to maintain your independence may look different compared to what other people receive

Introduction to home care

As you get older simple tasks that weren't difficult before, like getting dressed, cleaning your home or cooking a meal, may be more of a struggle or take longer. You may have issues with mobility or have trouble getting to the shops or appointments.

The good news is that you can receive help with these things, which will not only make your life easier but will also enable you to continue living independently, in the familiar setting of your own home, for as long as possible.

While it can be difficult to accept some help around the house, having the right supports in place early can make a huge difference. Having some extra help doesn't mean you have to give up your freedom and can't live an active life. You may simply need some help to get the shopping done or to help you look after your garden.

Getting someone else to do any physically demanding jobs means you'll be able to enjoy life without having to do the 'hard' stuff.

Why home care can be the best option

There's no place like home and living in an environment where you feel safe, comfortable and supported is important. Staying in your own home also means you can continue to be connected and involved with your community.

To assist you with living at home as best as possible, there are people and services available, including family, friends, and professional health and care workers. The Australian Government provides financial support for home care services through different programs such as the Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP) and Home Care Packages (HCP) program.

Levels of home care

The level of support home care services can provide ranges from a little bit of help, for example with the weekly shopping or laundry, to high level assistance for several hours each day to help you shower, get dressed, prepare meals or access nursing services.

If you're mostly able to care for yourself but need some help with certain challenging jobs you can access entry level supports through CHSP. Services are aimed to support your independence and wellbeing at home and to keep you socially active in your community.

To get help at home if you have higher care needs, you may be eligible for home care services and supports through one of the four HCP levels:

  • Level 1 supports people with basic care 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 or more complex care needs

The types of services you can access for each level of home care package are the same, however the higher the level of your package, the more funding will be made available to support you.

The care level you will be allocated depends on your personal circumstances and your needs.

Allocation of a care level

Maintaining independence looks very different for different people and there is a wide range of services available to meet each person's individual needs.

To work out what supports will benefit you the most you will need to undergo an aged care assessment.

For Government funded supports, the assessment will be done by someone from an Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT) - or Aged Care Assessment Service (ACAS) if you live in Victoria.

This assessment will explore the type of care needs you have and what level of support will best suit your needs.

Private providers often have their own assessment process before you start services with them to make sure they provide you with supports that are right for you.

Types of help available under home care

The types of services you can access through home care providers to help you manage day-to-day activities include:

  • Transport
  • Domestic assistance such as help with house cleaning and laundry
  • Help with grocery shopping and/or meal preparation
  • Personal care services such as showering, dressing and undressing
  • Nursing care, medication management and access to other health care services
  • Home maintenance and modifications, for example help with gardening or installation of a shower rail
  • Social support to help you go out in the community and on group excursions
  • Respite at home or in the community for you or your carer

​Are you eligible for home care services?

If you're over 65 years old, or older than 50 years of age for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and you need help with certain daily tasks, you may be eligible for Government funded help at home.

The need for help at home may come suddenly after an illness or fall or happen more gradually over time. There is no need to wait for a physical illness or health scare before you start accessing home care services.

Signs that it may be time to get some support may be quite obvious or more subtle and can include:

  • Increased problems with general health
  • Losing your driver's licence
  • Becoming less mobile
  • Fear of being left alone
  • Having low confidence
  • Inattention to self care and personal hygiene
  • Living spaces that are becoming messier than usual
  • Forgetting to eat, take medication, go to appointments or pay bills
  • Keeping away from social events or avoiding contact with others

Related content:

Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP)
Home Care Packages (HCP)
Why choose private home care?

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  2. Help at home explained


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