Starting a Home Care Package

Starting a Home Care Package

The ‘Home Care Today’ project ran from 2013 to June 2017. COTA Australia continues to provide access to Home Care Today resources which were current at June 2017. However they are no longer monitored or updated, and information may not be current.

Once you’ve chosen a provider, the next step is working with them to plan your care. This means:

  • identifying your needs
  • deciding how much to self-manage your own care
  • planning your services
  • understand your budget
  • and finalising your Home Care Agreement.

For more information you can also download our handy guide, Starting a Home Care Package: What you need to know.

DOWNLOAD our printable: Starting a Home Care Package – Booklet

Thinking about what you want

Before you start discussing a care plan with your provider, it’s a good idea to think about what matters to you and improves your life. Ask yourself:

  • What do I most enjoy doing?
  • What makes my life enjoyable and meaningful?
  • What’s good right now and what’s not?
  • What’s preventing me from having an enjoyable and meaningful life?
  • What’s missing? What would I have if I could choose anything?
  • What sorts of things might help to improve my day-to-day life?
  • What support do I need to remain safe and well?
  • Where and when do I want that support to be available?
  • How do I want to be supported and by whom?

Kathleen and Brian’s story

Watch Kathleen and Brian, who has Parkinson’s Disease, share how they used the package to improve Brian’s life.

WATCH/VIEW Kathleen and Brian’s story: Home Care Package – making a difference to the quality of life 

DOWNLOAD our printable: Thinking About What You Want – Questions

Deciding how much to manage your own care

Home Care Packages give you choice and flexibility. You can choose:

  • the types of assistance you receive
  • when and by whom services are delivered
  • how involved you will be in managing your package.

Some people want the provider to manage their package for them, whereas others want to be really involved, for example, by:

  • doing their own research
  • making enquiries about different services and options
  • managing their own home care budget.

You can also choose a representative, like a relative, friend or advocate, to do this for you.

Self-management and administration fees

Your provider may reduce your administration fees if you (or your representative) do some of the administration yourself, such as record-keeping or making appointments. This leaves more money for you to spend on other things.

Agreeing on management

When you meet with your provider to make a care plan, you will talk about and agree on how your package will be managed. Some providers will offer different self-management options for you to choose from. Make sure you and the provider both understand the management roles, responsibilities and costs you’re agreeing to.

DOWNLOAD our printable: Deciding How Much To Manage Your Own Care – Information

Planning your services

Your provider will allocate you a case manager or adviser, who will meet with you to make a care plan. The care plan sets out what services you will receive.

Services, support and equipment

You can choose to spend your package funds on most types of services, support and equipment that relate to your care, health and wellbeing. The table below lists some common and some more individual and creative possibilities.

Common itemsOther possibilities
Personal care – showering, dressing, continence managementPodiatry, physiotherapy, counselling, speech therapy, some vision aids, companion pet
Home care – cleaning of house (essential areas), laundry, making bedsProfessional laundering, spring cleaning, therapeutic bed mattress
Shopping assistanceInternet access, iPad, computer equipment, hands-free speaker phone
Transport to appointments, such as medical or even hairdresser (escorted by a care worker)Fuel vouchers or taxi vouchers to use to get around without a worker needing to be present, mobility training on how to use local public transport
Meal preparation, special health-related foodsBasic cooking classes, meal delivery, diabetic magazine subscription
Basic garden and lawn maintenanceMaking raised garden beds, purchase or hire of some equipment and paying towards some modifications at home
In-home respite carePersonal support during travelling or while visiting other locations
Medication promptsWorker to help create photo memory books, go for a stroll in the park, out for coffee, walk the dog
Social activities and programsExercise programs and classes (such as hydrotherapy, yoga, massage, gym, personal trainer, treadmill)

These are only examples – you have a lot of flexibility to choose the services that you want. That can include getting services from another home care service provider or from somewhere else altogether.

However, there are some things you can’t spend package funds on. Things that are excluded are:

  • day-to-day bills for food and alcohol
  • entertainment
  • rent or mortgage payments
  • gambling
  • utility bills
  • things covered by Medicare or pharmaceutical benefits
  • holidays
  • programs already funded or subsidised by the Australian Government.

Making decisions

It’s up to you and your adviser (and others too, if you want) to work out the best way to use your funds to achieve what you want. You make the final decisions, but it’s a partnership process to work out how to make it happen. That’s why your relationship with your provider and your adviser is important. Our Working with Your Provider checklist has pointers for how to get the best support possible.

When you first get a package, making decisions can seem difficult. In the beginning you might let other people make decisions for you, but over time you may wish to make more decisions yourself. Over time you may also want to change your arrangements, like when, where and how often your service is delivered or perhaps who delivers your service. Your adviser will work with you to try to make that happen.

Your care plan

Your care plan will describe the services you have chosen, including:

  • exactly what will be provided
  • who will provide it
  • how often and when
  • cost
  • your contribution
  • your income-tested care fee (if your income is above a certain level)
  • your provider’s charges for managing your package.

DOWNLOAD our printable: Planning Your Care – Information

Your Budget

The total funds in your package depend on the level of package you are on and your fee contribution. Please see our Managing Your Home Care Package page more more information on this.

You and your provider will discuss and agree on costs. To make the most of your budget, you need to understand all the costs involved, including both the cost of your home care services and case management and administrative costs.


Your budget may not cover all the services you would like, so choosing your priorities can be important. You might also find other ways to meet your goals, like including support from family and friends or buying extra services privately.

Saving for a rainy day

Some providers suggest you set some money aside each month for a contingency fund. This provides a safety net in case you need unexpected services or costlier items. You decide whether to set some money aside for contingencies – it isn’t compulsory.

DOWNLOAD our printable: Your Budget – Information

Making a Home Care Agreement

After you have discussed and agreed on the services and support you require, you will need to sign a Home Care Agreement. This outlines:

  • how the package will be provided
  • the services you will receive
  • your rights and responsibilities
  • how much it will cost
  • how to end the agreement.

Before you sign

Before you sign the agreement, read it carefully and ask questions about anything that’s unclear. Ask the provider to write down any disagreements and only sign the agreement when you are satisfied.

If English isn’t your first language, you can ask your provider for an interpreter to help you negotiate your Home Care Agreement.

Changing services

You may want to change the services you receive over time. You don’t need to sign a new agreement every time you make a small change – this can simply be updated in your care plan.

Find out more

Download Consumer’s Guide to Home Care Agreements for more information on Home Care Agreements and how to make one.

VIEW/DOWNLOAD our guide: Consumers Guide to Home Care Agreement

DOWNLOAD our printable: Making a Home Care Agreement – Information