MONEY: What form of assistance is my parent entitled to and who should we contact for help?
MONEY: What form of assistance is my parent entitled to and who should we contact for help? ThinkStock

Learn about available help for independent living

ANDREW Heaven, an AMP financial planner at WealthPartners Financial Solutions how to help an elderly parent that wants to stay living at home.

Question: My mother is 86, a widow and living at home. I am concerned about her welfare but she refuses to consider moving to a nursing home.

I respect her wishes, but she does need some assistance.

She receives $780 a fortnight part age pension and has a $200,000 term deposit with the bank.

What form of assistance is she entitled to and who should we contact for help?

Answer: Living in the family home as long as possible is a priority for most elderly people. While there is recognition that they may need assistance in some aspects of daily living, they fiercely value their independent living.

Access to home care packages is initiated via My Aged Care and the Department of Human Services. The program provides services to assist individuals to remain at home for as long as possible by providing flexibility in the way support and care services are provided.

To be eligible for a HCP your mum must be assessed by the Aged Care Assessments Team. The ACAT will then prepare a letter confirming eligibility for a HCP and detail the level of care your mum is approved for.

The level of subsidy available depends on what level of support your mum is deemed to require.

There are four levels of HCP available: level 1 for basic needs, or a $22.35 government subsidy per day; level 2 for low-level care needs, $40.65 per day; level 3 for intermediate care needs, $89.37 per day; and level 4 for high-level care needs, $135.87 per day.

Your mum will then be placed in the national priority queue for HCP and will be contacted when a package becomes available. Once offered, your mum will have up to 56 days to accept the package and choose a provider.

You should meet providers in your area to discuss services available.

These may include transport for shopping and appointments, social support by way of companionship, domestic assistance for household tasks, personal care for bathing or dressing, food services such as assistance with preparation or delivery of meals, and home modifications.

Services can be tailored based on needs and the funding available.

HCP can't be used as a general source of income for day-to-day expenses, but is a subsidy paid to HCP providers.

The providers can charge administration and management fees in addition to the service. Consumers can choose which provider they work with, and transfer unspent amounts from one provider to another.

When accepting a HCP the recipient may be asked to pay a range of fees towards the cost of their care.

A basic daily care fee is negotiated between the recipient and the provider. The maximum daily care fee is capped at 17.5% of the maximum single Age Pension rate. Currently the cap rate is $10.17 per day.

Depending on your mum's income, an income-tested fee may apply. This fee reduces the government subsidy.

The provider will charge the same cost for the approved level of support, however your mum will pay a greater portion of the cost.

A fee is not payable if your mum's income is less than $26,327.

If your mum's income exceeds this threshold, but is less than $50,876, then the fee applicable will be 50% of the income in excess of $26,237 capped at a daily rate of $14.59 per day.

If your mum's income is greater than $50,876, then the fee will be 50% of the income in excess of $50,876 capped at a daily rate of $29.19 per day.

A lifetime cap applies to income tested fees, which is indexed and is currently $63,759.

Your mum will be required to submit an Aged Care Fees Income Assessment form (SA456) to the Department of Human Services to determine her applicable fees.

Further information can be found at

Q&A with The Coach story first appeared on the WealthParners

Any general advice in this story doesn't take account of your personal objectives, financial situation and needs.

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