When the time comes that you need a bit more support, deciding where you’ll live can be overwhelming. After all, it’s a big life decision, and if you’ve lived an independent life so far, coming to terms with the fact that you need a bit of help and facing the task of possibly moving can be very daunting.
Depending on your health situation and your priorities, you may be tossing up between staying where you are – with some extra help from family and care organisations – or moving into a home where care is always around the corner.
In this article, we’ll help you compare the benefits of care in your own home versus care in an aged care home.
What to expect from home care
From not having to say goodbye to the family home and pets to just having a private haven to call your own, there are many reasons people choose to stay home as opposed to moving into aged care – especially if they’re still able to manage by themselves most of the time.
Depending on how much care you need to stay independent at home, a home care worker could visit you anywhere from an hour a week to 3+ hours every day.
Home care workers help clients out in different ways – it’s not one size fits all. Depending on your funding, you decide what you need a hand with – it could just be a lift to the shops and a buddy to carry the bags, or it could be a bespoke combination of domestic assistance, health care and services that enhance your social wellbeing.
There are a huge range of services on offer, including:
- Cleaning – someone to help you vacuum and mop floors, wipe down surfaces or do a load of washing
- Gardening – someone to help you clear the weeds or trim the shrubs
- Transport – someone to take you to and from appointments or social occasions
- Social Support – someone to have a coffee with or keep you company
- Pet Support – someone to walk the dog or take them to the vet
- Shopping – someone to help you with the groceries or buy gifts
- Meal Preparation – someone to help you get dinner sorted or bake your favourite cake
- Personal Care – someone to help you shower safely or get ready for the day
- Nursing & Medication Management – someone to care for wounds or help you keep track of prescriptions
- Dementia Support – someone to help you cope with and manage cognitive impairment
- Allied Health – someone to help you treat a condition or injury, like a physiotherapist, speech pathologist or occupational therapist. They’ll come to you, meaning you won’t need to go to and from appointments at different clinics.
How to fund your home care services
Unless you’re paying privately, most home care clients use government-subsidised funding to pay for much of their services. What you end up paying will depend on what type of funding you’re approved for, what services you get and in some cases, your financial situation.
In Australia, if you have entry-level care needs, you’ll likely be approved for a Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP) which covers a prescribed set of services depending on your circumstance, including:
- Meal preparation
- Personal care
- Social support
Most of the cost will be covered by your funding – you’ll just be asked to contribute an hourly fee, which is generally $8 an hour.
On the other hand, you could be approved for a Home Care Package, which comes in four levels:
- Level 1 – for basic care needs (worth approximately $8,750 a year)
- Level 2 – for low-level care needs (worth approximately $15,250 a year)
- Level 3 – for intermediate care needs (worth approximately $33,500 a year)
- Level 4 – for high-level care needs (worth approximately $50,750 a year)
If you’re approved for a Home Care Package, you’ll be able to use your funding toward even more services.
What to expect from an aged care home
Moving into an aged care home (also known as a nursing home or residential aged care) might be the best option for some people, especially if round-the-clock care is a top priority.
Living in an aged care home means that clinical staff, such as registered nurses, enrolled nurses, therapy assistants, physiotherapists and more are even easier to access. Plus, a regularly visiting doctor ensures medical attention is never too far away.
Living in an aged care home also means:
- You’ll receive the support you need for everyday tasks
- You’ll receive daily assistance with personal care, such as showering and toileting
- You won’t have to clean, cook or do your own laundry if you don’t want to
- You’ll always be surrounded by people and you’ll get to choose from a range of social activities
- You’ll have access to advanced care for dementia, dysphagia or other age-related conditions, if you need it
With aged care homes located all across Perth and most major cities and towns, there will usually be a home close to your family and friends, who are always welcome to visit you.
Most aged care homes are designed to look and feel just like a regular family home, and you’ll be able to choose one that has a private or shared bedroom that you can decorate to your style and taste.
How to fund your aged care accommodation
Aged care funding can be quite confusing. While the Australian government can provide funding to make your care more affordable, it can still be a bit hard to get your head around it all.
The amount of funding you will receive depends on an assessment of your care needs and how much you can afford to contribute to your care and accommodation costs.
Pricing also differs depending on the type of accommodation and the location. For example, choosing a large private room with an adjoining ensuite in an inner-city aged care home is likely to cost more than a shared room and bathroom in a more rural aged care home.
Aged care homes have three types of cost:
- A basic daily fee – this pays for the hotel services you receive
- Accommodation costs – this varies depending on your chosen room and home and is based on an income and assets assessment
- Means-tested care fee – this varies depending on the care you receive and is also based on an income and assets assessment
If you want to move into an aged care home, you’ll need to get in touch with My Aged Care to arrange an assessment. They will also help explain the types of costs and talk to you through the income and assets assessment.
Ask yourself: How much care is required?
If you’re comparing both options based purely on cost, home care is going to be the more financially viable option. However the more important question to discuss is how much care is needed to live safely and securely.
For seniors who have cognitive impairment or mobility issues that jeopardise their safety, residential aged care might be the safest option – especially if they’re living alone.
For seniors who are isolated, living in an aged care home means you’re always surrounded by people to chat to. Since loneliness can have a negative effect on other aspects of our health, this is a key reason many Australians choose to make the move.
On the other hand, if you’re going to be much happier at home and will benefit from someone visiting – especially if you’re approved for a higher Home Care Package – home care may be the better option. A Home Care Package can also cover a range of services that reduce your risk of isolation, including a home care worker taking you to and from community groups, helping you visit friends and family, or simply hanging out with you.