Navigating aged care
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What is aged care?
Aged care encompasses daily living and nursing care services provided to older Australians who either need help to live at home or can no longer live independently.
Aged care services can be divided into three categories:
- low-level care
- short-term or episodic care
- high-level care.
The Department of Veterans' Affairs (DVA) and the Department of Health both offer aged care services to older Australians, however, there are two major differences between the services each provides, as follows:
- DVA aged and community care services are only available to eligible veterans and war widows(ers) and are usually 'entry level' services for lower care needs. They are not designed for more complex care needs.
- Department of Health's aged and community care services are available to all Australians, including veterans and war widows(ers). Department of Health's programs take in the full range of aged and community care services, from 'entry level' assistance, such as the Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHSP), through to much more comprehensive packaged home care, such as Home Care Packages. Levels of assistance range from 1 through to 4, depending on the person's assessed needs, level 4 packages providing the highest intensity of care.
Department of Health is also responsible for the administration and regulation of Commonwealth subsidised residential aged care, or aged care homes, including resident fees and charges. Veterans and war widows(ers), as Australian citizens, have the same right of access to 'mainstream' services supplied by the Department of Health as other members of the community. DVA clients can receive both DVA services and mainstream services at the same time, as long as there is no duplication of services.
An overview of programs offered by DVA and the Department of Health is shown in the following image:
Text description for the overview of program offered by DVA and the Department of HealthBack to top
The Government's aged care reforms
Informed by the Productivity Commission's report, Caring for Older Australians, the reforms are being led by the Department of Health and are delivering important benefits to older Australians over a 10-year period. These benefits include:
- more tailored and holistic approaches to community and aged care assessments and identification of needs
- more choice in community and aged care programs
- more control over services being delivered through Consumer Directed Care.
DVA is working closely with the Department of Health to ensure that reform measures are complementary to DVA's programs and will result in improved outcomes for veterans and DVA aged care providers.
Further information can be found at aged care reforms.Back to top
My Aged Care — the gateway to aged care information and services
My Aged Care is the Commonwealth Government's main entry point to aged care for all Australians. Veterans and war widows(ers) who need aged care information, advice and services such as a Home Care Package, or who are thinking about entering residential aged care, will need to contact My Aged Care.
Information on Aged Care Services — both those administered by the DVA and the Department of Health — can be found via the following links:
- DVA services and costs
- Department of Health services and costs
- Residential aged care
- Further information
DVA services and costs
DVA provides entry level aged care services to eligible veterans and war widows(ers) with low care needs to help them remain living in their homes and communities. These services include the following programs:
Veterans' Home Care
DVA Gold Card or White Card holders are eligible to receive a Veterans' Home Care (VHC) assessment. VHC is designed to assist those who wish to continue living at home by providing a small amount of practical help.
VHC services include domestic assistance, personal care, respite care and safety-related home and garden maintenance. Additionally, social assistance services are available as part of the Coordinated Veterans' Care Program, provided through VHC.
To receive an assessment for VHC services, call the Veterans' Home Care Assessment Agency on 1300 550 450. The VHC assessor will discuss your circumstances with you to identify which services you need.
A small co-payment is applicable for domestic assistance, safety-related home and garden maintenance and personal care. No co-payment applies to respite care.
The process for accessing services through the VHC program is shown in the following:
Respite gives carers a break by temporarily relieving them of their caring responsibilities. A carer can be a friend, partner or family member who provides ongoing care to a person who is frail or severely incapacitated.
DVA offers respite care to:
- the carer of a Gold Card or White Card holder
- a Gold Card or White Care holder who is a carer, and
- a Gold Card or White Card holder who is a self-carer (eligible for residential respite only).
There are three types of respite care available through VHC:
- in-home respite
- residential respite, and
- Emergency Short-Term Home Relief (ESTHR).
DVA Gold Card or White Card holders seeking residential respite in a Commonwealth Government-funded residential aged care facility will need an approval by an Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT) (or the Aged Care Assessment Service (ACAS) in Victoria), in addition to the VHC approval. To obtain an ACAT/ACAS approval, contact My Aged Care for an assessment. Please visit the My Aged Care website or call the contact centre on 1800 200 422.
There is no cost for respite care provided through the VHC program if it is within the following limits:
- 196 hours of in-home respite, or 28 days of residential respite or a combination of both, in any one financial year, and
- 216 hours of ESTHR in any one financial year.
For residential respite, the Commonwealth will pay the Commonwealth funding component for 63 days of residential respite per financial year. DVA will pay the basic daily care fee, which is the client funding component, for up to 28 days.
Some residential aged care facilities may need payment in advance to organise respite care. This is sometimes called a 'booking fee'. The amount of the booking fee should not cost more than a full week's stay in the facility, or 25 per cent of the cost for the entire stay, whichever is lower. DVA is unable to pay this booking fee. The residential aged care facility is responsible for refunding this booking fee to the client after the respite stay.
DVA will pay the basic daily care fee for Australian former Prisoners of War (POW) or a Victoria Cross (VC) recipients receiving residential respite, for a maximum of 63 days. If extra respite care is needed beyond the limits above, My Aged Care may be able to provide additional respite care, however, DVA will not pay any associated costs for this additional care.
The process for accessing in-home respite and ESTHR is shown in the following:
The process for accessing residential respite is shown in the following:
Depending on their circumstances, a client may wish to undertake step 3 before step 2 so that they know their balance of respite hours prior to finding a residential aged care facility. If step 3 is undertaken before step 2, the client will need to contact the VHC Assessment Agency after confirming the residential aged care facility in step 2 to allow the VHC Assessment Agency to send the authorisation letter.
Gold or White Card holders can access rehabilitation aids and appliances through the Rehabilitation Appliances Program (RAP) to help them minimise the impact of disabilities, enhance quality of life and maximise independence when undertaking daily living activities.
A General Practitioner (GP) can provide the necessary referral to an appropriate allied health professional (for example, occupational therapist) who can assess your need for RAP aids and appliances.
The process for accessing RAP is shown in the following:
DVA Community Nursing
DVA Community Nursing provides clinical nursing and/or personal care services to eligible veterans and war widows(ers) in their own home. Community nursing services can assist you with medication, wound care, hygiene and help with showering or dressing. Community nursing services can help to restore or maintain your health and independence at home and assist you to avoid early admittance to hospital or residential aged care. Community nursing services are provided by a mix of personnel including registered and enrolled nurses and nursing support staff.
Under the Community Nursing Program, there is no cost for Gold Card or White Card holders based on their assessed clinical and personal care needs. White Card holders are only covered for their accepted disabilities.
The process for accessing the DVA Community Nursing program is shown in the following:
- Visit DVA's Community Nursing Program, or
- Email nursing [at] dva.gov.au, or
- Phone 1800 VETERAN (1800 838 372).
Convalescent care refers to a short period of non-acute care that is provided to eligible veterans and war widows(ers) to assist recovery from an illness or operation immediately following an acute hospital admission.
For Gold Card holders, DVA will pay for convalescent care following an acute hospital admission for any health condition.
For White Card holders, DVA will pay for convalescent care following an acute hospital admission for:
- an accepted war or service caused injury or disease(s)
- malignant cancer
- pulmonary tuberculosis
- any mental health condition
- substance use disorder, or
- alcohol use disorder.
Convalescent care can be provided in public or private hospitals, Multi-Purpose Services, residential aged care facilities, or other suitable facilities whichever is the most suitable setting. Convalescent care cannot be provided in the home.
When convalescent care is arranged in a public or private hospital (or a public hospital based Multi-Purpose Service), prior financial authorisation from DVA is not required and there is no limit on the number of days that you can access.
When convalescent care is arranged in a non-hospital setting, prior authorisation from DVA is required and there is a limit on the number of days that you can access. DVA will pay for up to 21 days in a financial year.
You do not have to pay for convalescent care.
The process for accessing convalescent care is shown in the following:
For further information about convalescent care phone DVA on 1800 VETERAN (1800 838 372).Back to top