Understanding the process of getting help through the aged care government system can be confusing. Whether you are a carer, relative or yourself wanting aged care, the government website is a great place to start. However, there are a few basics to know before you make that call to book an assessment - 1800 200 422 (8am-8pm- Mon-Fri). Being fully informed will help you to ask for the right assessment for the right funding. Be aware that you will be expected to contribute towards the services provided in addition to the funding given. In this post, I will concentrate on yard services only, although there are many other services available, such as respite, personal care, social support, and transport.
Firstly, importantly, but most often gleaned over, is the fact that there are two types of assessment available. The first one is called the HAAC Scheme - Home and Community Care - known now as Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP). In the area of Bundaberg, HAAC is administered by Centacare, who have their own team of yard workers. In Gin Gin, Qld, Council administers the Kolan Community Care Program, offering twelve yard-service vouchers yearly, with a list of accredited contractors. This programme is meant for short-term re-enablement. Say you are 40 and have had an accident which prevents you from being able to look after yourself at home. You may be eligible for assistance. An assessment can be made with any age group, as long as you can show that you do need support to stay in your home. This is not income assessed. However, the fact that it is for short-term re-enablement does not guarantee that you will continue to get the funding. The expectation is that you will improve, not deteriorate. Although not publicised, this programme is set to end in 2020, and nobody knows if it will be replaced. At the moment in Bundaberg, there is approximately a 3 month waiting period to access HAAC. (depending on urgency & need).
The second type of assessment is called ACAT - Aged Care Assessment Team. Use this assessment for the Home Care Packages 1 -4. Level 1 is the entry level home-care; level 4 being the most intensive care needed. You must be elderly to access these packages. Recently, the government has made changes to the way this funding is administered, giving greater choice to the funded person as to where, how and when this money is spent. The funding is attached to the aged person who has been successfully assessed and goes with them as they move through the levels. It is expected that with age, you will continue to deteriorate, and need higher levels of care. You will never see this money. The package is administered by your choice from a list of accredited providers in your region, who must be incorporated bodies. Most of these providers will make you sign a contract, with a penalty exit fee. (which can only be taken from the funding bucket by the way). If you plan to move on, deplete the balance of your account! Administration costs take a large proportion of your funding. It is as close to daylight robbery as you can get, but I am confident that competition will drive this down. Just recently, I found Ezyas@Home - a provider in Bundaberg who has no management fees, no administration fees, no setup or exit fees, and no basic daily care fees. I am hopeful that more organizations like this will emerge and drive down the exorbitant fees charged by the churches, who have monopolized this fast-growing industry, sold their soul to the devil and made the mighty dollar their God.
The assessment is income assessed and can take as long as 75 minutes. As stated on the website:
"The ACATs conduct comprehensive assessments of the care needs of older people with complex needs and help them access the most suitable types of care, including approval for Commonwealth subsidised aged care. They are assessed for eligibility for care under the Aged Care Act 1997, with approval subject to a decision by an ACAT delegate. It also involves developing a goal-oriented support plan."
So before you pick up the phone to book the assessment, know exactly what you are asking for- HAAC or ACAT?