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Enjoying the benefits

Flourish 19 Jun 2019

Making the switch from the Commonwealth Home Support Programme to a Home Care Package

Malcolm Niemeier is one of four generations living in a busy household of seven in the Melbourne suburb of Ringwood. The 88-year-old, who says he’s “not ready for a nursing home”, moved to Victoria from his own home in Merimbula in New South Wales two years ago. He had experienced a couple of nasty falls and was no longer able to live alone. 

Malcolm is hearing impaired and had been receiving some regular cleaning services under the Commonwealth Home Support Programme when he was in New South Wales. After waiting about a year for a Home Care Package, he now receives additional podiatry, massage and physiotherapy services under the package.

“All of this is very good. It really helps keep me moving and active,” Malcolm says.

“Raylene Schriever [a Community Liaison Officer from Australian Unity Home Care Service] visited us and helped me fill out the forms. It wasn’t very difficult at all. 

“Kim, who comes every week to help me with the cleaning, is very efficient. She makes us a coffee and we have a chat. We are good friends.” 

Meanwhile, in New South Wales, Dorothy Bousfield has lived independently in a spacious home in Sydney’s Sutherland Shire for four decades. She enjoys the freedom and, like Malcolm, wants to maintain her independence.

Dorothy admits she cannot do everything she used to do and has a walker to help with her osteoarthritis. But she prefers to do things on her own terms.

“My son worries about me and thinks that I should go into a retirement home,” she says. “But I tell him that I will know when I am ready.”

Instead, an Australian Unity Home Care Services Care Worker visits Dorothy’s home once a fortnight to assist with gardening and house cleaning, as part of her government-funded Home Care Package.

Dorothy transitioned from the Commonwealth Home Support Programme to a Home Care Package about 11 months ago and has been thrilled with her regular home cleaning and lawn mowing assistance. 

“I couldn’t fault it,” she says. “The changeover was very easy and I’m very satisfied with what I receive now from Australian Unity Home Care Services. 

“I am a great admirer of gardens but not a keen gardener, so it helps to have that assistance.

“I’m pretty tidy, too, but having someone come and clean once a fortnight is a great help.”

Malcolm and Dorothy are among the many Australian Unity Home Care Services customers who have transitioned directly from the Commonwealth Home Support Programme to a Home Care Package. It offers greater funding, customisation to individual needs and access to more services.

Malcolm’s daughter-in-law Siska Niemeier says he’s also on the waiting list for new teeth, mobility supports and, hopefully, a treadmill.

“It’s difficult for him to walk around here as it’s very hilly, and a treadmill would help him get some exercise in a safe environment,” Siska says. “These extra services would be wonderful for him.”

Aloysius Goh, Head of Business Development and Product at Australian Unity, says a Home Care Package is focused on long-term care, which allows for increased services when someone’s needs change. “Many of our customers have identified a change in their needs after a fall or a hospital stay, but they also find there are practical and emotional benefits to be gained from the wider range of services offered under a Home Care Package,” he says. 

“A Home Care Package allows customers greater choice and a higher frequency of services, delivered on their terms.” 

The Commonwealth Home Support Programme, for example, is entry-level, in-home care. By contrast, a Home Care Package offers four levels of tailored support. Services include domestic assistance, personal support with daily tasks, health services such as podiatry and physiotherapy, in-home nursing, transport and buying or hiring mobility aids.

The first two levels help with low-level care needs, while levels three and four help those with intermediate to high-care needs.

Most important, Aloysius says, transitioning to a Home Care Package does not have to be a headache. “It can seem daunting, but we assist our customers every step of the way, making it a seamless and easy experience,” he says.

“Approval can take time, so we advise our customers to start the process of applying for a Home Care Package earlier rather than later.”

The wait was worth it, says Malcolm, a former electrical contractor, father of three, grandfather of nine and great-grandfather of seven. 

After the loss of his wife, Shirley, to whom he was married for 65 years, Malcolm says the value of living with his loved ones and still having some independence through his new Home Care Package is priceless.

“It’s absolutely wonderful.” he says. 

Your easy guide for transitioning to a Home Care Package from the CHSP

1. Consider your needs

If you think you could benefit from additional support, beyond what you currently receive with your Commonwealth Home Support Programme, Australian Unity can help you to apply for a Home Care Package and guide you through the transition. While you apply and transition to a Home Care Package, your current CHSP services will also continue. 

2. Request an assessment

Speak to your local Australian Unity branch or call us on 1300 160 170 and we’ll help organise a referral to My Aged Care for an assessment of your needs. My Aged Care is the government body responsible for home care funding. 

3. Assessment

A government assessor will visit you at home to chat about your living situation and decide what type of care you’re eligible for.

4. Assessment outcome

You’ll get your outcome in the mail, with details of the package you’re eligible for. Then you’ll be placed on a national waitlist until a package becomes available. Before you receive access to your package, you’ll need to fill out a number of Centrelink forms to work out if you’ll need to help pay for your services. These will arrive in the mail after you have received your outcome letter. When they do, call your local branch or 1300 160 170, and we can help you complete them.

5. Choose a provider

Once you have been allocated a Home Care Package, you will receive a letter outlining what package has been assigned to you. Call us on 1300 160 170 when you get this letter, so we can help start your services. You’ll have 56 days from the date you receive your letter to choose a provider and commence your services. An extension of 28 days is available should you require more time. Your CHSP support will end the day you start receiving your Home Care Package services, so you will continue to receive the assistance you need.

6. Creating a tailored care plan

We’ll help create and put in place your care plan, so you can relax and enjoy your Home Care Services. Your care plan is designed to assist you as your needs evolve and can be added to or cancelled at any point.

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If you would like more information about Home Care Packages and are interested in applying for funding, contact your local branch or our friendly team today on 1300 160 170

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