Supporting older loved ones no longer means removing their independence. With in-home care readily available, older people and their families are benefiting.

A report by the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing, confirmed, ‘Sustained enjoyment of life over many years could be linked with healthier behavioral choices, promoting longevity.’

“Sometimes I read these things,” Maria, a grandmother of five, told us recently, “and I think, that’s so obvious they could’ve just asked me.”

At 79 years young, Maria plays lawn bowls twice weekly, lunches with friends and regularly attends seniors’ movie nights.

Last year, Maria slipped and broke her left arm and badly bruised her spine. “I wasn’t trying to get out of housework,” she said, laughing. “Although I recovered, my arm and back are stiff and I just can’t do the things I used to.”

Maria’s daughter, Julie, suggested in-home care initially to help with a few chores so Maria discussed the idea with her doctor. Her G.P. arranged an assessment to determine her needs based on the four care levels available:

  1. Basic
  2. Low-level
  3. Intermediate
  4. High-level

Each package offers services such as, but not limited to:

  • housework,
  • meal preparation,
  • personal care: bathing, dressing, etc,
  • shopping,
  • gardening,
  • errands,
  • small home-maintenance jobs.

The levels of care offer the same types of service; but more hours of care are provided as the care-level increases.

After Maria was assessed, she was allocated a home care package and placed in a priority queue until she was notified in writing that an appropriate package had become available.

While waiting, Maria and Julie researched providers.

“Mum was naturally interested in the services available,” Julie said. “For me, it was about fees and charges, and whether they spoke Italian. Mum’s accent is pretty heavy – people sometimes don’t understand her.”

The cost of in-home care varies depending on the package, and while the federal government subsidises the program, those who can afford it are asked to contribute. This contribution may be:

  • a percentage of the age pension,
  • an income-tested fee where income exceeds a certain amount.

A handy fee calculator is available at www.myagedcare.gov.au.

“I was surprised I could choose my own provider. And later on, if I wanted, I can change providers and transfer my account,” Maria explained.

Once she’d settled on a provider, Maria received a care agreement and the provider worked with her to design a care plan.

Her assessment determined that she qualified for Basic level. As she told us, “I have a lady in to dust and vacuum and do out the bathroom etcetera. It’s just two hours a week and I do the rest. Later, if I move to, say, Low-level, the carer will increase her hours. That way she’ll gradually do more of the chores and I’ll gradually do less.”

“This has given me such peace of mind,” Julie said. “Mum is receiving the help she needs and,” she added with a wink, “when the time comes, there’s end-of-life care.”

Maria laughed. “Not while my bowling arm’s still good. Even with a stiff back I give the competition a run for their money!”