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I’m not old

Penny Pryor

Think the government’s aged care changes don’t apply to you – yet? Think again. One of the main pillars of the policy changes announced on Friday was an increase in the number of home care packages (which allow you to receive care while you stay at home). Accompanying this was an increase in the number of levels at which these packages are provided, from two to four.

More care at home

“This is great because it means that those people in the middle get the extra service that they need and the providers get paid for the service they are providing,” principal of Aged Care Gurus Rachel Lane says.

“[This is] at least the starting point for what the baby boomers are going to want.”

The number of home care packages will increase from 59,876 to 99,669 over the next five years under the proposals.The increase in levels will occur from 1 July 2013.

An extra level of home care has been introduced at the low level (A) and mid-level (C) of care. They will complement existing community aged care at home (level B) and extended aged care at home packages (level D). They will be delivered on a “consumer directed care” basis, which means the users of the packages will have a greater say in what they get.

Lifestyle choices will increase under new aged-care proposals.

Unfortunately the increase in placements may still not be enough according to the Business Council of Australia Health Task Force chairman, Rohan Mead.

Mead, who is also group managing director of Australian Unity, says there will be 130,000 people turning 75 in 2012-2013 but only 4901 additional home care packages.

There are other concerns about the reforms. Nursing home care will also have a tougher means test, and there are changes around the family home being an assessable or non-assessable asset.

Get help

Aged care is a minefield, and one of the more interesting things to come out of the report is the government’s recognition of the complexity of seeking the best kind of aged care and the best financial means to access it.

“Consumers will be encouraged to access financial advice about their aged care costs from qualified advisers with expertise in aged care financing,” the report states.

So even if you’re not ready to access it, if you’re over 50 it’s something you should be thinking about and planning for.

Read our How To on budgeting for aged care.

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