Will I need to stop working to care for my elderly parents?

Caring for your elderly parents while holding down a job is a daunting task. But now you can help them achieve their care needs without jeopardising your own income or their quality of life. Here we show you how you can achieve that goal easier than you think.

Q. My parents are getting older and I know they need daily help. Should I give up my job to care for them?
The simple answer is no you don’t, and your parents don’t need to move into an aged care facility either. There is now a very flexible and affordable model for in-home care that offers a way for you to keep your job and for your parents to receive the care that they need.

The new system has been in place from July 1 last year when the Government instigated a program to deliver all home care packages as Consumer Directed Care (CDC). 

Q. What’s the first step I should take to find care?
All the information you need can be found on an online portal called the My Aged Care website. It has information on the types of Home Care Packages and it can guide you through the process of developing a care plan under the CDC model. It also has some great financial advice to help reduce the financial burden on you and your family.

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Carers can help take stress off family members

 Q. How can a service provider help?
While you need to apply for care through the My Aged Care website, a service provider can simplify the process for you says Bram Baker, Director of service provider Just Better Care, Gold Coast. He adds, “A good service provider can help out at all stages of the process, from information gathering, to drawing up a care plan in consultation with you and your parents and then carrying out the care plan once the right package has been found." 

Q. How do I know my parents will get the help they need?
CDC is a highly flexible aged care model designed specifically to meet the needs of the people requiring care and also the needs of their relatives. Unlike previous systems you and your parents can now choose what type of care and support will be provided within the level of package approved. “This can range from as little time as 1½ hours a fortnight, to around the clock 24/7 care. Care that exceeds the hours provided by the approved package could be met privately” says Baker.

According to Baker, the system is about engaging the personal needs of the individual and allowing over 65s the dignity of staying in their own homes. “Whether your parents just need a social visit every now and then, someone to do the cleaning, or a full-time live-in helper, the new CDC system helps service providers like Just Better Care to better match their needs with the care that exactly fits their requirements,” he says.

Q. How does the process work exactly?
The strength of the new system lies in how the care plan is drawn up. It’s tailor-made with plenty of discussion and feedback from the consumer – in this case your parents. Once you start the process through the My Aged Care website you can then sit down with a service provider such as Just Better Care and discuss the main goals and care needs, along with your parents, siblings and anyone else you want involved.

It may be that you or your siblings can provide some of the care, but not all the care, and that’s something that is quite feasible under the new system that takes into account any care already being provided by family, carers and community services.

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From 1 July 2016, all home care packages must be delivered on a Consumer Directed Care basis

Q. How much will care cost?
It all depends on the level of care required and subsidies your parents are entitled to. An Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT) (ACAS if you are in Victoria) determines what kind of care package your parents might need and considers their financial status (whether or not they are self-funded retirees or if they are on the pension) and then calculates the kind of financial contribution they will have to make to their care.

A personalised budget is then drawn up and this is managed by the service provider that you choose. Depending on your parents’ eligibility for assistance, they may need to contribute a ‘basic daily fee’ of up to 17.5 per cent of the single basic Age Pension or an ‘income-tested care fee’ if their yearly income is above $25,659.40 for an individual person, $25,191.40 for a member of a couple separated by illness or $39,821.60 for a couple living together. There are also caps on these fees to ensure they remain affordable for everyone.

Are you up to doing some sums yourself? You can estimate the financial costs for home care with the Home Care Fee Estimator on the My Aged Care website here.

Q. What are the tiered package options available?
There are four different Home Care Packages available for your parents as assessed by the ACAT. The packages are:

  • Home Care Level 1 – care for people with basic care needs.
  • Home Care Level 2 – care for people with low level care needs.
  • Home Care Level 3 – care for people with intermediate care needs.
  • Home Care Level 4 – care for people with high care needs.

Q. What kind of services are available?
The services available cover a whole gamut of needs and fall under four categories.

  • Personal Care involves help with household tasks like washing, cleaning and home maintenance.
  • Support Services covers things such as showering and bathing.
  • Nursing and Clinical Services includes help with health related issues like vision and hearing, and
  • Care Coordination and Management ensures that all the consumer’s needs are being met.

Q. How much control of the process do you have?
The key benefit of the new system is its flexibility. The consumer has a direct say over the kind of care needed, where the money is being directed from the personalised budget and from February next year, even who the service provider is.

From February 2017, care plans will be given to the consumer, rather than to service providers and you and your parents will be able to choose the service provider that best suits their needs.

Q. Can I change the care plan as needs alter?
Unlike the old system, care plans are entirely changeable. Instead of having to forfeit an existing care plan and reapply for a new one with the Government, consumers will now have the option of reviewing the care plan at three, six or twelve monthly intervals and can revise it to better suit any changing circumstances.

Consumers and their relatives will also have access to monthly expense statements to see how the budget is progressing and service providers will give feedback about how the care is working out, no matter where in the world their client’s relatives are. “We can even send this information to the children of parents living overseas,” adds Baker.


The new system allows for more options for people needing care

Q. Why choose Just Better Care as a service provider?
Just Better Care now has 33 offices around Australia providing care for hundreds of Australians. One of the company’s aims is to keep people as active as possible, says Baker.

“Staying active is very important to people’s health, independence and emotional wellbeing,” he says. “We try to involve people in their care, even if it’s as simple as getting a tea bag out at tea time. By involving people in their own care, we help them stay active and keep them enjoying the independence they’ve always had at home.”

For more information about the services offered by Just Better Care go to www.justbettercare.com or call 1300 587 823

For more information regarding Consumer Directed Care (CDC) go to www.myagedcare.gov.au

What questions would you like answered about the CDC? Join the conversation below.