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Understanding Commonwealth Home Support Program vs Home Care Packages 

Living a full and independent life at home becomes even more precious as we age. However, sometimes a little extra help can go a long way in making that possible. To support this, the Australian government offers two primary programs:  

Both aim to assist older Australians in staying at home, but they differ significantly in their structure, funding, and the level of support they provide. Let’s break down the key differences to help you understand which program might be the right fit for you or your loved one. 

The Essential Difference: Level of Care 

The core distinction between the Commonwealth Home Support Program and Home Care Packages lies in the level of care needed.  

Commonwealth Home Support Program is designed for people with basic-level care needs. This means you’re generally able to manage most daily tasks but might require assistance with a few specific things. Perhaps you need help with grocery shopping, cleaning the house, or preparing meals.  

Commonwealth Home Support Program can provide a helping hand to ensure these small hurdles don’t become roadblocks to your independence. 

On the other hand, Home Care Packages are for individuals with more complex levels of care needs. This could involve assistance with showering, dressing, or using a toilet. HCPs offer a broader range of services, including nursing care, to provide a higher level of support with daily living activities, helping you live safely and comfortably at home for longer. 

Services Offered: Flexibility vs. Tailored Support  

The Commonwealth Home Support Program provides a good starting point for those requiring basic assistance. It typically covers one or two services from a pre-defined list, offering a more focused approach. Additionally, CHSP can provide short-term, intensive support after hospitalisation. 

However, CHSP allows you to choose multiple providers for these services, giving you some flexibility in who delivers your care.  

Additional Support by Commonwealth Home Support Program 

One of the key differences in the services offered is that, in addition to entry-level support, the Commonwealth Home Support Program incorporates an additional subprogram called the Assistance with Care and Housing program, which extends support to individuals who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. This demonstrates the program’s commitment to providing a safe home for those in need. 

Home Care Packages, on the other hand, offer a broader range of services with more customisation. They come in four tiers (basic, low, intermediate, and high). While the core services like meal preparation, personal care, nursing care, or housekeeping remain the same across all levels, the frequency and number of services you receive will vary based on your specific needs and allocated funding. 

Here, you’ll work with a single approved provider to create a personalised care plan that addresses all your needs. This allows for a more comprehensive approach to ongoing care. 

Costs and Funding 

The Commonwealth Home Support Program offers a helping hand with everyday tasks at home, but it’s a shared responsibility between the government, service providers, and you. Here’s how it works: 

  • Government Funding 

The Australian Government provides funding directly to CHSP service providers, and not the participants. The providers use this funding to subsidise the cost of services for eligible participants.  

  • Your Contributions 

You are expected to contribute towards the cost of their care if they can afford to do so. The amount you contribute is determined by your income and the specific services you receive. Simple services will have lower contributions, while more complex services may cost more.  

If you’re unable to afford a contribution, you can always discuss this with your provider, as they have policies in place to assist those who are most vulnerable. 

  • Transparency and Affordability 

While receiving services through CHSP, you will never be asked to cover the full cost at any stage. This ensures that older Australians can access the support they need without facing financial burdens. 

Similar to CHSP, HCPs offer funding with shared costs between the government and you, potentially including some out-of-pocket expenses. Here’s a breakdown: 

  • Government Subsidy 

The Australian Government provides a significant subsidy to your chosen service provider based on the level of your HCP. These levels correspond to the complexity of your care needs, with higher levels receiving more funding.  

  • Your Contribution 

You’ll also contribute to the cost of care. This contribution has three parts:  

  • Basic Daily Fee: This fee, set by the government may be charged by your provider based on your HCP level. 
  • Income-Tested Care Fee: This fee depends on your income as assessed by Services Australia. There are annual and lifetime limits on how much you can be charged. 
  • Additional Fees: You might agree to pay extra for specific services not covered by your HCP funding. 

Here is the table outlining the different care packages and their corresponding subsidies and contributions as of March 20, 2024. 

Level 1 Basic $10,271.10 Basic Daily Fee (up to $12.75) Income-Tested Care Fee (up to $36.60) Additional Fees (optional)  
Level 2 Low $18,063.85 
Level 3 Intermediate $39,310.50 
Level 4 High $59,593.55 

Eligibility and Assessment Process 

Eligibility Requirements 

While both CHSP and HCP offer valuable support for independent living, eligibility criteria ensure the programs are best suited for those who need them most. Here’s an overview of the key factors: 

1. Age 

Commonwealth Home Support Program: Generally, for individuals aged 65 or older. 

Home Care Packages: Offers a wider eligibility window, starting at 50 years old.  

2. Residency 

You must be an Australian citizen, permanent resident, or hold a specific visa that permits access to aged care services. 

3. Financial Assessment 

An assessment will be conducted to determine the level of care you require and the associated cost if you need to contribute. This ensures program sustainability while offering options for those who may need financial assistance. 

Applying for an Assessment 

In both the Commonwealth Home Support Program and Home Care Packages, you’ll begin by applying for an assessment through My Aged Care. Based on your initial information, the system will determine which type of assessment is best suited for your needs: 

  • Regional Assessment Service (RAS): Conducts entry-level assessments for CHSP eligibility if your needs appear manageable with CHSP funding. 
  • Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT): Performs assessments for Home Care Packages when your needs might require higher levels of care. 

The Assessment Visit for Both CHSP and HCP 

  • An assessor will visit your home to discuss your health and need for support. 
  • The assessment will determine the level of support you qualify for. 

Commonwealth Home Support Program Assessment Outcome 

  • You’ll receive immediate notification of your CHSP eligibility. 
  • If eligible, you can start services immediately after scheduling them with an approved CHSP provider. 
  • During the assessment, your assessor will inform you of the services you can receive. 

Home Care Packages Assessment Outcome 

  • In this case, you won’t receive immediate notification of HCP eligibility. 
  • The assessor will evaluate your needs with a team to determine the most suitable HCP level. 
  • You’ll receive a letter informing you of the specific HCP level you qualify for with an estimate of your wait time. Because unlike CHSP, HCP often involves a waiting period. 
  • You’ll be placed on a national priority list based on your needs and eligibility date. 

Combining Commonwealth Home Support Program and Home Care Packages 

While Commonwealth Home Support Program and Home Care Packages are typically separate programs, there are situations where you might be able to access both: 

  • If you’ve been approved for a higher-level HCP but face a waiting period, you might be eligible for a lower-level HCP combined with CHSP subsidies. This helps ensure you receive some level of care while waiting for your full HCP package. 
  • Even while receiving HCP, you may encounter temporary situations requiring additional support. For instance, if you have a Level 1 HCP but your budget is maxed out, and an unexpected illness demands more care, CHSP funds might be available to subsidise short-term services. 

In both scenarios, it’s crucial to discuss your situation with your care provider to understand your eligibility and explore potential options. 

Taking the Right Step with Bur-Del 

At Bur-Del, we are dedicated to guiding you through the complexities of the home support services form Commonwealth Home Support Program and Home Care Packages. Our knowledgeable team will help you understand your options, complete the required applications, and optimise your benefits. Whether you need basic support or more comprehensive care, Bur-Del ensures you get the home care services Burdekin needed to live comfortably and independently at home. Let us be your trusted partner in finding the right care solutions tailored to your specific needs. 

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