Older people who require care often wonder the difference between a home care package, nursing home, and retirement home. These terms often get used interchangeably but are not at all alike.
Usually, only one option is appropriate, based on a person’s needs, capacity to live independently, and available personal funds. Let’s look at the difference between home care packages, nursing homes, and retirement homes, so you can decide which option is best for you!
What is a Home Care Package?
A home care package is designed to assist older Australians with living healthy, safely, and independently in their own homes. The Australian Government pays approved providers a subsidy to supply specific aged care products and services to older Australians who have been allocated a home care package.
You must be 65 years or older (50 years or older for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people) and need coordinated services to help you stay at home to be eligible for a home care package. To determine your priority for care needs, you must undergo an ACAT assessment. If you are determined as eligible, you will be placed into the National Priority System, and be allocated a home care package when one becomes available.
There are four different home care package levels, with funding ranging from $9179.75 (level one) to $53,268.10 (level four) per year. You must go through an approved provider to access your home care package funds, as there are specific inclusions and exclusions on care services. Consumers can choose to self-manage their home care package if they want to choose their own carers and have more control over their services.
What is a Nursing Home?
A nursing home (also called residential care or an aged care home) is for older people who need ongoing assistance with everyday tasks or health care and can no longer live at home. The Australian Government gives nursing homes a subsidy to care for older Australians who have been determined as suitable.
You must be 65 years or older (50 years or older for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people) and unable to live independently at home to be eligible for an aged care home. To determine your eligibility, you must first check your eligibility online, and also undergo an ACAT assessment.
Nursing homes provide very structured care services to older people with a broad range of needs, such as with daily personal maintenance or feeding assistance. Nursing home residents usually are not able to choose their own carers or the services they receive.
Nursing homes are government subsidised, but you may have to pay additional costs, such as a basic daily fee, accommodation costs, and a means tested fee.
What is a Retirement Home?
Retirement homes (usually found in retirement villages) are for residents who are able to live primarily independently with minimal assistance. Living in a retirement home is usually driven by an older person’s lifestyle, rather than their needs. Retirement homes are not government subsidised, and are appropriate for people who are 55 years and over.
Retirement homes are suitable for older Australians who want to live an active and social lifestyle with people of a similar age and interests. These retirement villages often have communal facilities, such as swimming pools, gyms, and recreation facilities. Some retirement homes offer additional care services, but the main focus is the social and lifestyle aspects.
You do not need to meet any additional requirements to be eligible to live in a retirement home. As retirement homes are not government subsidised, residents must pay for the costs and fees of services and accommodation using their own funds.
Should I sign up for a Home Care Package, Nursing Home, or Retirement Home?
To determine if you should sign-up for a home care package, nursing home, or retirement home, you should consider your needs, capacity to live independently, and available personal funds. Retirement homes are not government subsidised, so you must be able to afford the cost of your accommodation and services out of your own pocket.
Home care packages are suitable for older people who require assistance to live independently in their own homes. Your eligibility for a home care package will be determined through an ACAT assessment. Home care packages are a great opportunity for older Australians to use government subsidised services to supply their care. There are four levels of home care package based on a persons care needs, with a level four package ($53,268.10 per year) suitable for a person with high care needs, who typically needs daily carer visits.
A nursing home is a suitable option if an older person requires ongoing assistance with daily tasks but is not able to live at home. Your eligibility to live in a nursing home will be determined by an ACAT assessment. These government subsidised homes provide very structured care services, and are suitable if a person requires ongoing assistance with activities of daily living but additionally needs a home with carers available nearby.
If you’ve decided that a home care package is the right option, then you should check out our five-step guide on how to get a home care package. If you’re ready to start thinking about your choice of provider, then make sure you know the questions to ask when looking for a home care package provider.