Advice on in-home aged care services during COVID-19
The arrangements for in-home aged care services have changed due to the COVID-19 situation. Find advice on what support is available, where to get urgent assistance, how assessments will work, and more.
Support at home during COVID-19
Aged care providers continue delivering services through in-home and residential care settings, although some might be delivered in a different way. Older Australians should continue accessing the support they need during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The services you currently receive through the Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP) or your Home Care Package will continue. However, there may be some changes to the way you receive the service. For example, staff may change the way they provide personal care to limit person‑to-person touch where possible. They may also wear masks and gloves when they may not have previously. Read the It’s ok to have home care fact sheet.
In an emergency situation you can access entry level services, such as meals and personal care. These situations may include:
- the unplanned absence of a carer
- the need for urgent and immediate safety intervention
- an outbreak of COVID-19 in your community.
You can organise services through the Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHSP) for up to six weeks without an assessment.
If you require access to long term or ongoing care, your CHSP provider will help to arrange an assessment through My Aged Care. Assessments can also be conducted using telehealth rather than face-to-face. Speak with a home care provider about these measures.
Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT) assessments
Due to COVID-19, ACATs are taking a flexible approach to assessments.
Local circumstances and client choices guide ACATs’ decisions on how to conduct assessments. ACATs should offer face-to-face assessments where it is possible and safe. However, ACATs have protocols in place to return to telephone assessments should a local outbreak occur.
Home Care Packages and COVID-19
You have flexibility with how you spend the funds in your Home Care Package.
Contact your provider if you:
- are concerned about the way your services are delivered
- would like to make changes to your services, for example, arranging for your carer to shop on your behalf.
Exiting or cancelling home care services
There are many reasons why you, or your representative, may ask to stop receiving care and services.
If circumstances have changed due to COVID-19, home care providers can offer to:
- review your care plan
- adjust your package of care and services.
Home care providers have a responsibility to record their management actions and to prevent and control infection spread. If you have concerns about exposure to
COVID-19, please discuss this with your provider. There are resources available to support general discussions about COVID-19, including the use of surgical masks.
Providers can arrange for you to suspend, or ‘take leave’ from your package. You need to let your provider know the date that your leave starts. This does not have to be in writing. Your provider must:
- not deliver services during the period you have taken leave
- must start delivering services again when you return
- tell you about any changes to your home care fees and the costs charged to your Home Care Package.
Managing funds in Home Care Packages
If you have spent all of your Home Care Package and have an emergency, you can access additional services under the CHSP on a short-term basis. These instances must be time limited, monitored and reviewed. Speak with your home care provider about this.
Commonwealth Home Support Programme during COVID-19
The CHSP provides entry-level support for older people who need some help to stay at home. Service providers work with them to maintain their independence.
Most of the services you receive through your CHSP service provider will continue. However, there may be some changes to how providers deliver services and their frequency. For example:
- CHSP staff may change the way they provide personal care by limiting person‑to‑person touch where possible
- transport providers may limit the number of trips to essential services, such as medical appointments.
Please contact your provider if you:
- have concerns about how your current services are being delivered or your current carer
- would like to make changes to your services because of COVID-19.
CHSP services to stay socially connected
Support is available for CHSP clients who may be lonely or anxious during the pandemic. CHSP service providers are also helping clients stay socially connected through:
- internet or phone-based welfare checks
- online social group activities.
If you would like to receive these support services please contact your CHSP service provider.
Access to CHSP services
Most CHSP service types are essential aged care services and should continue during the pandemic.
You can access CHSP services without an assessment if you need:
- urgent CHSP services
- short-term services due to COVID-19.
In all other non-urgent situations, CHSP services cannot start before an assessment has taken place.
If permanent care is required beyond the initial eight weeks of the service, an assessment can be arranged through My Aged Care. Your CHSP service provider can help with this.
CHSP service delivery
If there is a change to service delivery, your CHSP service providers will contact you as soon as possible.
CHSP service providers must follow the guidelines, advice and restrictions in their state or territory, including for social support services. This includes maintaining physical distancing and infection control measures. Providers must also have a COVIDSafe plan for their workplace and service delivery model.
Contact your CHSP service provider for more information.