Support for over 65s

On this page you will find information, links to BCA submissions and the BCA policy Position regarding Support for over 65s and how it might impact people who are blind or vision impaired. This page will have regular updates and information added as it comes to hand. So re-visit regularly.

Information on Support for over 65s

The following information might assist you in understanding what support is available for people who are over the age of 65.

Can I access support through the National Disability Insurance Scheme?

If you are aged 65 years or older when the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) rolls out, or rolled out in your area, you will not be able to access support through the scheme.

If you will only narrowly miss out on the NDIS because of your age, you may still be able to access support through the NDIS. If you think you might fit into this category, please contact Blind Citizens Australia immediately.

Will I still be able to access my current services?

If you were accessing specialist disability services before the NDIS rolled out in your area, you should continue receiving these services at no additional cost. Please monitor the support you are receiving and if things change, contact Blind Citizens Australia immediately.

If you want to continue accessing generic community-based services such as community transport or home cleaning, you will now need to access these through a national scheme called My Aged Care (see below).

When should I access support under My Aged Care?

As above, if you want to access generic community-based services such as community transport or home cleaning, you will now need to access these through My Aged Care.

If you are over the age of 65 and acquired your vision loss after the NDIS was introduced, you will need to access both specialist disability and generalist services through My Aged Care.

If you were accessing specialist disability services before the NDIS was introduced but you now have new support needs, you will need to access support through My Aged Care.

There are two main options available under My Aged Care:

  • You can access services through an entry level programme called the Commonwealth Home Support Programme
  • You can be allocated with individualised funding through a Home Care Package

What services are included under the Commonwealth Home Support Programme, how much does it cost, and how can I access it?

The Commonwealth Home Support Programme is an entry level aged care program. It aims to bring together community services that were previously funded under the Home and Community Care Programme (HACC) under one umbrella. These services include things like cleaning, transport, basic garden maintenance and occupational therapy.

Once you have been approved for the Commonwealth Home Support Programme, you will start receiving services very quickly. Your assessor will make referrals on your behalf on a needs basis. After you have been referred to a service, you can continue to access that service as you see fit.

Services accessed under the Commonwealth Home Support Programme generally require a co-payment of 20% of the overall cost of that service.

If you would like to apply for the Commonwealth Home Support Programme, contact the My Aged Care Contact Centre on 1800 200 422 and ask for an assessment to be undertaken by the Regional Assessment Service. You should also talk about your disability-related needs when you make this call.

When preparing for your assessment, try to remember the following:

  • Consider the things you are finding difficult, and what services you need to make them less difficult. Are there things you want to be doing, but don’t currently have the support to do? Record your thoughts so you can refer back to them during your assessment.
  • We recommend that wherever possible, you have an advocate or support person attend your assessment with you. Talk to this person about the sorts of services and supports you need ahead of time so you are both on the same page.
  • Try to record specific information like the name of the assessor, and any agreements that were made during the assessment.
  • The Commonwealth Home Support Programme includes little assistance in regards to aids and equipment, will not cover things like ongoing veterinary and food expenses for dog guides and provides individuals with little choice and control over which service providers they use. If during the assessment, you start to think a Home Care Package might suit you better, you should tell your Assessor as they can refer you on for a Home Care Assessment.

What services can be funded through a Home Care Package, how much does it cost, and how can I access one?

Home Care Packages are person-centred funding packages that are provided to individuals through the My Aged Care scheme. They are designed to enable older people to continue to live in their own homes and participate in community activities for as long as possible.

If you are provided with a Home Care Package, you will receive a package of funding that you can spend on services and supports that meet your disability-related needs. This is also the way things work under the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

Home care packages can include things like:

  • Personal support, such as assistance with bathing or getting dressed
  • Domestic support, such as assistance with cleaning or shopping
  • Provision of meals or other food services
  • Assistance with transport, for example to be able to attend appointments or other activities within the community
  • Social support, such as assistance with recreational or physical activities
  • Counselling
  • Provision of aids and equipment
  • Home maintenance and modifications

Because Home Care Packages are intended to be consumer-directed, they also provide greater flexibility to fund blindness-specific services and supports; such as costs incurred as a result of using a dog guide for mobility.

You will generally be required to pay a co-payment for your Home Care Package. The maximum basic daily fee for a home care package currently averages out at just under $10 per day. You might only be asked to pay the daily basic fee, or you may be asked to pay more depending on your income and assets. For more information about income and assets testing for aged care services, refer to the ‘Schedule of Fees and Charges for Residential and Home Care’, available from the Department of Health at: schedule of fees and charges for residential and home care

There is a priority wait list for Home Care Packages, and there are only a finite number of packages available. There is no way of knowing how long after the initial assessment you will start receiving support, but you can continue to access services through the Commonwealth Home Support Programme while you are on the waiting list for a Home Care Package.

If you would like to apply for a Home Care Package, you will need to be assessed by the Comprehensive Assessment Team (previously known as ACAT). To arrange an assessment, contact the My Aged Care Contact Centre on 1800 200 422 and tell them you would like to be assessed for a Home Care Package.

When preparing for your assessment, try to remember the following:

  • Consider the things you are finding difficult, and what services you need to make them less difficult. Are there things you want to be doing, but don’t currently have the support to do? Record your thoughts so you can refer back to them during your assessment.
  • We recommend that wherever possible, you have an advocate or support person attend your assessment with you. Talk to this person about the sorts of services and supports you need ahead of time so you are both on the same page.
  • Record key information like the name of the assessor, and any agreements that were made during the assessment.
  • Home Care Packages can be self-managed, or managed by a Case Manager. The funding for case management will come out of your Home Care Package, and Case management is expensive. If you want or need Case Management, remember to talk about this during your assessment.

What if I can’t afford aged care services?

The amount of money you will be expected to contribute towards your aged care services is ultimately negotiated between you and your service provider. Once these costs have been agreed upon, they will be written up in a formal agreement. Some older people with disability have successfully had their co-payments waved by negotiating with their service provider and putting a strong case forward as to why they should not be charged.

If you aren’t able to negotiate a lower co-payment with your service provider and contributing to your care and support arrangements would cause you financial hardship, you can apply for a Hardship Supplement. If you are assessed as being unable to pay part or all of the required co-payments once submitting your application, the government can step in and make sure you still get the support you need. To apply for the hardship supplement, you will need to submit a formal application to the Department of Human Services. For further information about the application process, contact the Department of Human Services on 1800 227 475.

What if things go wrong?

If you have a problem that you have not been able to resolve with your service provider, you can lodge a complaint with the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner. Once your complaint has been accepted, the Commissioner may be able to investigate and help you to resolve it. You can phone the Office of the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner on 1800 550 552, or visit www.agedcarecomplaints.gov.au

There are also Aged Care Advocacy Services operating in all Australian states and territories. An Aged Care Advocacy Service can help you by:

  • Giving you information about your rights and responsibilities
  • Listening to your story
  • Providing support to help you resolve problems with your service provider
  • Speaking with your service provider on your behalf
  • Referring you to another agency that may be in a better position to assist you

To be transferred to the Aged Care Advocacy Service in your state or territory, you can contact the National Aged Care Advocacy Line on 1800 700 600.

If the problems you are experiencing relate specifically to blindness or vision impairment, please contact Blind Citizens Australia on 03 9654 1400 or toll free 1800 033 660 or via email at bca@bca.org.au

Aged Care Legislative Review

A robust and responsive aged care system is core to the needs of Australians who are blind or vision impaired. According to Vision 2020 Australia, around 80% of vision loss in Australia is caused by conditions that become more common as people age. This raises a number of implications for Australia’s aging population, with one in every four Australians projected to be 65 years of age or older by the year 2056.

Blind Citizens Australia asserts that older Australians who are blind or vision impaired, when provided with the appropriate support, can continue to lead full and active lives and make valuable contributions to their communities. To this end, we welcome the opportunity to contribute to the review of Aged Care services in Australia and thank the Aged Care Sector Committee for providing us with this opportunity.

Go here to Read the BCA Aged Care Legislative Review Submission (Word doc 117kb)

BCA Position Statement on My Aged Care

For reading or download, here you will find a copy of the Blind Citizens Australia Position Statement on My Aged Care (Word docx)

Aged Care and NDIS written by Lynne Davis, BCA board member (NDIS and MAC portfolio)

To all those who have shared their views and concerns of the My Aged Care reforms with myself and the staff at BCA, thank you for such an articulate and useful discussion.

I joined the board of Blind Citizens Australia in late 2015 and was given the portfolio responsibility for The NDIS and My Aged Care. I have been following your feedback and discussions on the bca list with great interest. There is evidently a lot of concern amongst blind and vision impaired people aged 65 and over concerning the future of disability support services under the My Aged Care arrangements, and these concerns are fueled by a lack of information about the new and proposed arrangements.

Our immediate priority, as the organisation representing blind and vision impaired Australians, is to collect as much information as we can about our members concerns and then to advocate for these concerns to be addressed. I would welcome further discussion of your concerns on the bca list, as well as the opportunity to speak to you in person about them. I can be contacted by phone on 0419 637 618, or (02) 9439 3504.

We will also do what we can to improve the quality of information which is being provided about the MAC arrangements as they apply to people who are blind or vision impaired, as access to this information seems to be very limited at present.

Finally, if you have had some direct experience of the new arrangements, it would be very interesting to hear from you.

Let’s do what we can to ensure that age is not a factor in determining whether Australians who are blind or vision impaired receive the services and supports which they need!

Looking forward to hearing from you,
Lynne Davis.