Services to assist in staying supported at home
Australians are living longer than ever before, which means older people will experience a range of age related changes and may need to reach out for support. For most of us, it is important to maintain our individuality and independence at home as we age.
View the services below to discover options that may assist you or an older person you know to maintain independence and stay supported at home.
In Australia, we are fortunate that the government subsidises a broad range of aged care services as we get older. This enables us to make choices about the help we need to remain independent, safe, living well and longer at home.
Services in the home include: those that keep you well and independent, such as nursing and allied health, personal care, meals on wheels, specialised support for vision impairement and dementia; those that keep you safe, such as domestic assistance, home maintance, and home modifications such as hand rails and ramps; and those that keep you connected within your community such as community transport and social support.
There are two main options for services in the home: basic help at home, for those who need one or two services, available through the Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP); and more complex help at home, for those who need multiple services, available as a Home Care Package (HCP).
To access Australian Government subsidised aged care services in the home, there are a number of steps you need to go through to determine your eligibility. Navigating this process can take time, which is why planning ahead is important. The first step is to register with My Aged Care at https://www.myagedcare.gov.au/ or phone 1800 200 422. If you have specific communications needs go to www.myagedcare.gov.au/accessible-all
Francesca and Luigi's home care story
They discuss how the support received through their package has enabled them to maintain their individuality and independence at home.
The Older Person Advocacy Network provides free, independent and confidential advocacy support, education and information to older people (and their family or representatives) receiving, or seeking to receive, Australian Government subsidised aged care services in the home or in a residential aged care facility
An advocate is an impartial person who can support you to understand and exercise your rights; have your voice heard on matters that are important to you; and have your views and wishes considered in decisions made about your life. Advocates will always place you the centre of the process, act at your direction, support you to self-advocate or seek your permission before taking action or speaking on your behalf.
An Older Persons Advocacy Network advocate can provide information and support at all points along the aged care journey. They can assist you to
- access and interact with aged care services
- transition between aged care services as your needs change
- make informed decisions and exercise your right to choice when accessing and receiving care
- understand your aged care rights and have your rights recognised and upheld
- resolve problems or complaints with aged care providers in relation to the aged care services you receive
- address abuse, if you have experienced this within the aged care system
- address issues that impact your ability to live in your own home
Request an Advocate
The Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN) is made up of nine state and territory based service delivery organisations. When you Request an Advocate, you’ll be connected to an advocate in the state or territory where you live.Submit request >
Despite COVID-19 being mostly under control in Australia and life somewhat returning to normal, the effects on our lives, including emotional and psychological, have been extensive and ongoing.
The Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement has been funded by the Australian Government Department of Health to provide free specialist grief and bereavement counselling, information and support to older people impacted by experiences related to COVID-19. If people are feeling: intense sadness, anxiety, numbness, disbelief or finding it difficult to manage on a day-to-day basis, they may be struggling with their grief and sense of loss and may benefit from seeking assistance from this specialist support service. The service provides self-care resources, group counselling or 1:1 counselling sessions with a bereavement practitioner via telehealth, video call or in person.
For more information about this service go to: Grief and Bereavement and Coronavirus (COVID-19)
The Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement has bi-lingual staff who can work with clients in: Arabic, Czech, Farsi, French, Italian, Japanese, Maltese, Sinhali, Tamil, Spanish and Yiddish. Alternatively, Phone the Translating and Interpreting Service first on 131 450, nominate your language and then nominate which service you want to connect to. The Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavment also use Auslan interpreting where required.
For information and advice on how to support others download the FREE My Grief App: MyGrief
If you would like to know more about the impacts of trauma (including during COVID-19) and how to support wellbeing and recovery, visit the Phoenix Australia website: www.phoenixaustralia.org/aged-care
If you or someone close to you is living with dementia or you have concerns about your memory, a range of services are available through Dementia Australia to support you and/or the person you care for, including:
- General information and advice on a range of topics;
- Free, confidential, and professional counselling support to help you through all stages of a dementia journey. Counselling is available, face to face, over the phone or via video conferencing;
- Personalised information to help you manage a new diagnosis and live well;
- Assistance with accessing Australian Government services, including: My Aged Care, National Disability Insurance Scheme, Carers Gateway and the Dementia Behaviour Management Advisory Service;
- Carer support groups to connect carers to share experiences, tips and strategies;
For information and support please call the National Dementia Helpline 1800 100 500. The Helpline operates 8.00am to 8.00pm AEST, Monday to Friday, excluding public holidays. You can also email the helpline at firstname.lastname@example.org. For further information go to: https://www.dementia.org.au/
Note: If you think you need an ambulance or your injury or illness is critical or life threatening, call triple zero (000) for an ambulance immediately
Sometimes your health can impact on your ability to stay connected and supported in your community. There are many benefits associated with staying active and healthy as you age. A range of supports and services are available through Australian Government subsidised aged care services in the home, that can assist you to maintain your health and wellbeing whilst living in the community.
Support to manage chronic health conditions
If you are living the community with a chronic health condition, such as, asthma, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis and stroke, support is also available through your General Practitioner (GP).
Your GP may be able to assist you with:
- Developing a GP Chronic Disease Management Plan: This plan, developed with your GP, will set goals to support you manage your condition and help you identify health and community services to assist you with these goals. To be eligible for a plan, you must have a chronic condition that has lasted longer than 6 months or that the GP thinks will last longer than 6 months.
- Team Care Arrangements: If you have a chronic condition and complex care needs requiring care from at least three health professionals, your GP may also develop Team Care Arrangements. These will help coordinate more effectively the care you need from your GP and other health or care providers.
- Access to Allied health services: If you have both a Chronic Disease Management Plan and Team Care Arrangements prepared for you by your GP, you may be eligible for Medicare rebates for individual and group allied health services your GP has identified as part of your care, such as a physiotherapist, dietitian, or exercise physiologist. Under these arrangements Medicare rebates will provide access to five individual and eight group subsidised allied health services a calendar year (January to December). If you require additional allied health support, you may be able to access some allied health services through your aged care services in the home.
Residents of residential aged care facilities may also be eligible for these allied health services, when a GP has contributed to their multidisciplinary care plan.
- Medication Reviews: In collaboration with your GP, a pharmacist can comprehensively review your medication regimen through a home visit. The pharmacist’s findings are used by the GP to develop a medication management plan with you.
Support to address a health concern
Health Direct Australia provides a free call national helpline 1800 022 222, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If you are experiencing a health concern, the helpline will connect you with a registered nurse who can advise you whether you should see a local GP, manage the condition at home, or go to an emergency department. If there are no GPs open near you, the helpline may offer you a call back or a video call from a GP who can provide advice.
The HealthDirect website provides trusted online information about a huge range of health issues, including conditions, symptoms and treatments. It also offers a National Health Services Directory to help you connect with health services in your local area.
Support to stay physically active
There are many benefits associated with staying physically active as you age. Physical activity and exercise can increase your energy levels, improve your sleep, reduce stress and anxiety, improve your mobility, independence and self-confidence, and help you meet people and stay connected in the community. Click here for information and guidelines on physical activity for older people, or talk to your GP or health professionals involved in your care.
Support to manage incontinence
Incontinence can significantly impact a person’s quality of life. If not managed well, some people can become fearful of leaving their home and engaging in community and social activities. However, there are a range of supports available to resolve concerns relating to incontinence.
The National Continence Helpline 1800 330 066 (8am - 8pm AEST) is a free telephone service that can provide you with confidential information, advice and support about:
- the assessment and diagnosis of incontinence;
- management and treatment options;
- funding schemes to assist you with the costs of continence products;
- details of local continence service providers, product information, suppliers and manufacturers; and
- details of related funding schemes such as the Australian Government's Continence Aids Payment Scheme
Support for hearing loss
People experiencing untreated hearing loss can often feel isolated and withdrawn when their hearing loss impacts on their ability to communicate with their families and friends and participate in social events within their community. If you are experiencing hearing loss you may benefit from connecting with the Australian Government Hearing Services Program. The program provides eligible people with access to subsidised hearing services and subsidised supports, including rehabilitation and hearing devices such as hearing aids or assistive listening devices (ALD). You can determine your eligibility for the program by visiting the program’s website. If you are eligible for the program, you may apply online and once your application is completed, you will receive a welcome pack which includes a list of up to 20 hearing service providers in your area, and an information booklet with details on what to expect at your appointment, as well as the services and devices available to you. Once you have received your welcome pack, please read the information provided and you can contact your preferred hearing services provider to arrange an appointment. For further information, please visit the program’s website - www.hearingservices.gov.au.
Support to manage low mood, anxiety or depression
Unfortunately, many people aged over 65 seem to feel there is a stigma attached to depression and anxiety and are hesitant to share their experiences of anxiety and depression with others, often ignoring symptoms for long periods of time and only seeking the support of a professional when things have reached a crisis point. If you would like to connect with a trained mental health professional, there are free and confidential options available.
Head to Health is a website that provides information, advice and links to free and low cost, phone and online mental health services and resources. It also contains useful information about a range of issues relating to mental health and wellbeing, and connects people to services and supports that are relevant to their needs. Mental Health Care Plans are also available through your GP. If you have a mental health care plan, you will be entitled to Medicare rebates for up to 10 appointments with some allied mental health services, such as certain psychologists, occupational therapists and social workers in a year. Talk to your GP or visit HealthDirect for more information.
Older Persons Advocacy Network acknowledges the Australian Government Department of Health as the source of this information.
Stay Connected and Supported in Your Community is a partnership initiative of the Older Persons Advocacy Network and the ABC, in association with the TV series Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds. This initiative has been undertaken with funding from the Australian Government Department of Health.
OPAN service delivery organisation by state or territory:
Contact our Stay Connected and Supported Team
If you need further information and assistance, would like to volunteer, or make a general enquiry complete the form below and someone from the Stay Connected and Supported team will be in touch with you shortly.