Waiting for a Home Care Package? Here’s what you need to know about the extended Commonwealth Home Support Program

Aged Care May 28, 2019

Commencing in 2015, the Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHSP) was due to be phased out this year and rolled into the national program for Home Care Packages. That’s now set to change, with the budget announcement this year committing to continued funding for CHSP through to 2022.

Here at Mable, we’ve written about the value that you can get from your Home Care Package by engaging services directly through the platform. But with growing numbers of Australians on the waiting list, many are being urged to use the CHSP while they wait, or to ‘top up’ services if they’re on a lower level package than they need. Here’s how it works:

What is the Commonwealth Home Support Program?

The Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP) is designed to provide entry-level home support for older Australians who wish to continue living independently. As reported here in the Financial Review, there are over 1 million people currently on the program, which varies in cost and service, depending on what you require, where you live and which services you can access.

If you or a family member are living at home and need a little assistance with daily tasks, or with staying connected with your community, it can provide some help before a higher level of care is needed.

How can I access the Commonwealth Home Support Program?

Whether you require the CHSP or a higher level of care, the first step is the same. You first need to access My Aged Care at myagedcare.gov.au, or by calling 1800 200 422.
Once you’ve registered as requiring support, you will undergo a quick assessment over the phone to determine your suitability for the program. The call is also designed to assess your needs to make sure you don’t require a higher level of support, in the form of a Home Care Package.

How am I assessed for a Commonwealth Home Support Program?

Once you have answered some questions over the phone, a representative from the Regional Assessment Service (RAS) will be sent to your home to conduct the assessment.

They will discuss your current needs and future goals, and help you develop a support plan. Your support plan will be a record of your discussion and will outline your personal strengths and challenges, what you would like to achieve and the types of services that would help you to achieve your goals.

There’s a great resource on the My Aged Care website which features a detailed breakdown of what will happen during this initial meeting, and what documents and information you should bring with you.

What kind of services can I access with the Commonwealth Home Support Program?

The support you can access through the program can include those which are already provided in your community, like Meals on Wheels or community transport services, or specific services that must be organised through a service provider.

The support would typically include social support, transport and help around the house, personal care like showering or toileting as well as nursing and allied health services. It can also include some minor home modifications, like installation of safety aids or alarms in your home. In some cases, you can receive short term services to help you recover following an illness or injury.

When it comes to finding this support, your assessor will give you options for service providers and can also contact them on your behalf. You can also choose to contact them directly to arrange the support – in this instance, the  Regional Assessment Service will provide you with a referral code that you can use when you contact the provider. You can also let your assessor them know if you already have a service provider in mind that you would like to use.

How much will services under the Commonwealth Home Support Program cost?

The program is heavily subsidised by the Australian government, which means that you do pay a fee for services, but it is lower than it would ordinarily be.

Unlike a Home Care Package, there is no financial assessment undertaken by the government to determine how much you should pay. Rather, the costs are negotiated directly with the service provider. Each provider will have a policy outlining what their client contribution costs will be. It’s likely that they will ask questions around your finances, such as if you are a self-funded retiree or if you are a pensioner. This may then have an impact on what your contribution costs will be.

To give you an indication, Third Age Matters in this article reports that 800,000 of CHSP users spend an average of $2600 a year under the program.  While about half use one CHSP service type (domestic, transport, personal), about 6 percent use five or more.

Finding and hiring your own support via Mable

Mable allows you to find and directly engage your own support from an online community of independent care workers. You can search based on the type of support you’d like, or find someone who’s a good fit for you by searching for workers based on their interests, languages spoken, hobbies and more.

It’s a flexible solution that lets you control what support you receive when, and who comes into your home to provide it. The details are decided between you and your chosen care worker, so you can design your support around your life.

Unlike Home Care Packages, currently the Commonwealth Home Support Program is block funded, which means government funding does not go to the consumer, but to providers. If you’re interested in hiring your own support via Mable using the CHSP, we recommend asking CHSP providers in your area about whether they have a self-managed option which will allow you to do this.

Depending on where you are located, the Mable support team may be able to help connect you with such a provider.

Interested in finding out what support is available in your area? Search the profiles of independent support workers today to see how you can get flexible, affordable support on your terms.