Seniors need to know about help at home

Warrnambool resident Gloria Smith hadn’t heard of a Home Care Package (HCP) before she secured one.

Like so many older Australians, Gloria feared declining health meant an inevitable move into aged care. Luckily, the local council referred Gloria and her partner of 29 years, Wallace McDonald, to non-profit organisation VMCH, which has supported them both with a HCP for more than a year.

VMCH Case Manager Belinda Smith organises support for the couple with gardening, cleaning, home maintenance, personal alarms, meals on wheels and mobility aids to help them remain living independently at home.

“I didn’t realise there was so much help available, we were amazed,” Gloria said. “It’s been marvellous. Belinda is wonderful, I love her. Without all this help I think we’d be putting our name on a list for a supported type unit or nursing home or something.”

Gloria and Wallace are among almost 92,000 Australians receiving HCPs, according to the Government’s Home Care Packages Data Report (1st Quarter 2018-19).

Despite a large release of new packages, there are still 126,732 on the national queue awaiting a HCP at the appropriate level.

Belinda said Gloria and Wallace’s initial unfamiliarity with HCPs was common, which unfortunately meant many older people were entering aged care before it was necessary.

“It is a very familiar theme across all the regions I cover, which is disappointing because there are so many people who could be getting support who don’t even know it exists.

She added there were other options for those on HCP waiting lists, like accessing the Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP), a lower level of support to keep people living independently at home.

Gloria says she helps “spread the word” about HCPs whenever she can. “It’s been just wonderful. People can’t get over it when I tell them the support we get.”

If you would like some more information on help at home with VMCH, call 1300 919 850.