The different types of health and care services that make up community care, and how to make sure you’re getting access to what you need
Community Care is a broad term to describe a collection of services and health care that are packaged up to meet the unique needs of each individual in their own home, rather than in a hospital or care home.
Enabling those living with a disability or who are getting older to remain in their homes and community is not better for them, it’s also extremely beneficial for the society as a whole. When we all live together, it creates a society that is compassionate and inclusive. It gives our children access to their elders and those who live differently, and creates a far richer tapestry than the alternative.
Shutting people away well before their time because we can’t devote the time or energy into enabling them to stay with us is not a healthy or progressive solution. Here at ConnectAbility we know we all age, and most of us will suffer from a disability or injury that limits us in life at some stage. I’m sure that we can all agree that we would prefer to stay in our own homes and social circles as long as possible, and our loved ones and community would want to keep us too!
The great benefits of community care in our society
The reason that community care has been developed – quite aside from it being a generally humane service – is that is has a very long list of benefits; those that receive it and those that give it will both attest to it being a constant source of joy.
Being able to provide care to clients in their own homes and community means that they are able to retain all of the tiny, but important connections they have built up over time. There is so much involved in living life that many people take for granted such as:
- Knowing your way around your town
- Being familiar with your grocery store layout and what foods they stock
- Having access to your regular GP
- Knowing regular transport routes or places to park your car
- Being in a social routine – visits with friends and family in familiar locations
- The comfort of sleeping in a home you know well and love
- Being surrounded by loved and familiar belongings
- Being able to keep your pets, if you have them
- Having privacy and autonomy
- Being able to stay living with a spouse or family where applicable
These points are just a small sample of little comforts and joys in life that those providing community care seek to help their clients retain for as long as possible. Community care also contributes to taking undue stress off hospital and GP services, when so much care could be delivered outside of medical clinics. Studies have shown time and time again that government funded and privately funded community care is a boon for both the health care system and the people who need it. Most community care is delivered to individuals by a service provider as a Home Care Package.
What type of people provide community care services?
The types of health care or services you might need to access depends on your unique needs – no two people are exactly the same! It might be helpful to think about community care as being a little like health insurance – ‘hospital cover’ could be applied to anyone, because we all need that no matter our situation, but ‘extras cover’ depends on who we are and what we need. Many people find with ‘extras cover’ that they are paying for some services they don’t really use, and not getting enough of others – this is where community care if different.
Community care is focused on providing a completely tailored solution, which minimises waste and maximises results for clients. Some people who you might come into contact with in your community care plan could include:
- Massage therapists
- Exercise physiologists
- General assistance for shopping, chores or cooking
- Occupational therapists
- Support coordinators
The range of professionals and carers who might be part of your care plan don’t differ too much from those who would already be in your life if you had special or increased medical needs or care. Many of those listed likely look very familiar already – very few people reach the age of 30 without coming into contact with at least a few of these practitioners.
The main difference is that you will be allowing a community care provider to organise these care and health providers to visit and assist you in your home and community, rather than you needing to move yourself into a care home to receive assistance. This means that in many cases you will be able to keep your existing GP and any other health or service providers you currently use – which is great!
What kind of services are included in community care?
The types of things you can use community care to help you with span many categories, because life covers a lot of bases! Many of the services that can be provided are simple, but make a huge impact in the lives of our clients- studies show that integrated community care gets the best results for participants. Some examples of the services and care you might expect to receive as part of your community care package could include:
- Gardening and yard work help
- Personal grooming like hair and nail appointments
- Help with meal preparation
- Assistance with shopping and chores
- Housework and cleaning task help
- Registered Nurse visits after hospital stays or for special medical needs
- Mobility support like physiotherapy, exercise physiology or chiropractic services
- Counselling for mental health support
- Transport to get to appointments and social visits
- Help changing your home to better suit your current needs from Occupational Therapists
- Help managing all the services from your personal Support Coordinator
There are so many different types of day-to-day activities or appointments that community care can help provide for our more vulnerable members of society, this is by no means a complete list, but it hopefully gives a good snapshot of what might be involved!
Community care schemes and programs
There are a number of ways to access community care, and many people opt for a combination of government funded care and privately funded care. Privately funded care is a great option if you need or want to access more services than your government funded package – a top up if you like. Others will use privately funded care whilst waiting for the approval on their government funded package. There are a number of different schemes that might be suitable for you, and the team at ConnectAbility guides their clients through which ones apply to them, and which ones would be a nice extra. The two main schemes include:
Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP)
The CHSP is a government funded scheme that aims to help frail and elderly clients stay in their homes as long as possible, living with a good quality of life and accessing entry-level health services at home. This programme is the most current iteration of government support for community care, and it has merged (over time) several different services that included:
- Commonwealth Home and Community Care Program (HACC)
- National Respite for Carers Program (NRCP)
- Daily Therapy Centre Program (DTC)
- Assistance with Care and Housing for the Aged Program (ACHA)
Most clients can use this scheme to get the help they need, while some may need or want to add some extra services that they fund privately to get the overall care they need.
National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)
The NDIS has been set up and funded by the government to ensure people with disabilities can access the right care and services for their unique needs. There are different levels of care and funding available depending on the individual’s circumstances, and extra care can be provided out of pocket where necessary by using private care services.
Keeping people with disabilities in their own homes and communities directly translates into better health and care outcomes, and both the medical community and government have recognised the immense value in making societies more accessible and the lives of those with disabilities easier by providing a care safety net for all. ConnectAbility provides coordination of support for NDIS clients.
There are many other smaller schemes that exist to support the larger ones like the Community Volunteer Scheme, which aims to simply provide friendship, companionship and social interaction to older Australians. The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flexible Aged Care which aims to provide culturally appropriate aged care in home societies, which can sometimes be rural or remote and the Transition Care Scheme provides recipients with help and support for up to 12 weeks after a hospital stay, often in the home.
Who can deliver and coordinate community care for you?
Aged care and disability care providers like us at ConnectAbility are able to help our clients go through the process of applying for relevant funding, which can be an overwhelming process if our clients are unwell and their carers can understandably lack the knowledge in those areas.
Once funding has been approved and decided on, a Support Coordinator from ConnectAbility will help you decide how to spend your funding. They will also help you decide on what your care and life goals are, and organise services and support that help you reach those goals. Think of your Support Coordinator as your personal assistant for life and health support!
If you’re struggling with an illness, disability or you’re just feeling like everything is getting harder as you age – don’t delay in getting in contact with a service provider to help you. Your quality of life is the most important priority, and ConnectAbility can help you navigate the red-tape and information to fast-track you to a more autonomous life that leaves you free to get back to enjoying the important things. Give our awesome team a call today to get some obligation-free guidance and a friendly chat.