There are two different funding streams that older people living at home, can access to receive support. These two funding streams are the Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHSP) and the Home Care Package (HCP) program. The difference between CHSP and HCP include how it is assessed, funding levels available, what you can do with the funding, timing and access to services.
The CHSP program is assessed by the Regional Assessment Service (RAS) and the Home Care Package program is assessed by the Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT).
However, the ACAT, as the comprehensive assessing team can also approve CHSP services and support. The CHSP program is designed for older people who need very basic in-home support, it’s regarded as an entry-level program.
The Home Care Package program also recognises older people who have basic needs but a home care package provides more coordinated support than similar services available from the CHSP program. A home care package also provides greater flexibility and choice for the kind of services and support you’re wanting to access.
Difference between CHSP and HCP – assessment
The assessing service who approve for CHSP support is known as the RAS and they are a non-clinician workforce, meaning they have a basic understanding of the aged care program but are not equipped with the knowledge and skills for a more detailed or thorough assessment. The more detailed and thorough assessment comes from the ACAT, being a team of experienced clinicians who have a deeper understanding of the domains of older persons care.
The RAS approve for services and support under CHSP funding
CHSP services and support are delivered by different providers across the country and include not for profit organisations, for-profit organisations, State health services and local Councils. Being a Commonwealth funded program, CHSP services are the same anywhere across the country, but the organisations delivering these services are likely to be different. For example, in Queensland, local Councils are not providers of CHSP services but in Victoria and parts of WA and Tasmania local Councils do provide CHSP services.
Not all providers offer the full range of CHSP funded services either. And there are usually waiting lists in each local area for people waiting to be offered services from CHSP funding.
CHSP services and support are fragmented, meaning that although you may receive a number of referral codes for services under this funding, it is likely a number of different providers will be offering those services. For example, at the end of a RAS assessment, the RAS assessor will approve a number of referral codes. These referral codes could be for transport, domestic assistance, social support, yard maintenance, allied health support, nursing support or a continence assessment.
One provider of CHSP services in your local area may only have funding for one or two of these types of services. So with all these referral codes, it is possible you may receive these services from three or more providers.
Sometimes RAS assessors will forward those referral codes on your behalf to the local providers of those CHSP services. It’s important to be aware of this so when you receive a phone call from a service provider, you know who is contacting you and why.
Sometimes RAS assessors will not forward these codes to the local CHSP providers, they will leave it up to you to source your own CHSP services from a provider.
It is important to understand that you can choose which CHSP provider you’d like to receive your support from and you can change providers if you’re not happy…but ensure your preferred CHSP provider has availability for the type of service you are seeking before you leave your current provider.
Home Care packages
To receive a home care package, you must have been assessed by the ACAT.
Only an ACAT can approve a home care package. At the end of the ACAT assessment, the ACAT assessor will have a good idea of what level of the home care package they will be approving you or your loved one for. The lower level packages are the level 1 and 2 packages and the higher-level packages are the level 3 and 4 packages.
The funding allocation for each level of home care package is listed in the table below. This is the annual amount of funding allocated to each level of the home care package.
When the ACAT has completed their assessment, they’ll approve you for the level of the home care package they believe will meet your current needs.
The ACAT will generate a letter advising you of the outcome of your assessment and approval. This letter usually arrives within two weeks of your ACAT assessment.
You’ll then join the queue of other older people waiting to have their home care package assigned. Depending on the priority that the ACAT has approved for, you may be waiting anywhere from 3 months to 12 months or more, for your home care package to be assigned.
When you are getting closer to having your home care package assigned, you’ll receive another letter advising you of this. Then you’ll receive the important letter advising you that you’ve been assigned your home care package. The letter will state you have 56 days to choose a provider and enter in an agreement for your home care package.
If you haven’t already begun researching options for a provider, you’ll need to action this now, 56 days goes quickly!
When you’ve chosen the provider who will manage your home care package, you’ll need to have a discussion with them about the support you’d like to receive, using your package funding. Providers can either provide full management, part management or you can self-manage through them (where you hire and co-ordinate the support staff and items you need, and the provider simply pays the invoices).
You might decide that you want to continue with similar services that you were receiving from CHSP, such as domestic assistance and yard maintenance, or you might prefer to use your funding to purchase mobility aids or to pay for treatment from a naturopath if complimentary therapies are a service you use to enhance your health and wellbeing.
The services and support you receive within your home care package should be much more personalised than the services you were receiving from CHSP.
This is the benefit of receiving a home care package, it provides you with greater choice and flexibility with the funding.
The other benefit of receiving a home care package is that the services are more coordinated than CHSP services, meaning you are more likely to have continuity of staff, should this be your preference.
Summary of the difference between CHSP and HCP
The difference between CHSP and HCP is that one is simply a provider of basic services (CHSP) while the other is a more of a package (HCP).
The actual services and support you receive from either CHSP or home care package funding can be similar or very different to each other dependent on your parent’s needs.
The services funded by a CHSP are usually for more basic care needs such as house and yard cleaning, accompanying your loved one to the shops etc. Home care packages also cover this in the lower levels, but if you’d prefer to purchase a mobility aid or have your supplements reimbursed from your naturopath, this is entirely up to you. In a home care package you have more flexibility to utilise the funding for your individual needs.
Another big difference between CHSP and HCP is the time it takes to get approvals, funding and services. With a CHSP, they are relatively quick to get approvals and funding, however service delivery will depend on the capacity of the providers in your area. The waiting list for HCP funding approvals is currently months or years (as noted above) depending on your priority and level of care need. You then may have to wait longer for a provider to have capacity to offer the services.
Someone with dementia or complex health issues needs a HCP, but may take CHSP funding to start with because they need immediate assistance. If you are receiving CHSP services, it important to aim to progress to a HCP due to the wait times. Overall, a HCP provides personalised and flexible support.
This can be a complex area if you have complex needs. It could help to talk a professional who understands the system even before talking to My Aged Care.
Some useful links:
Carer’s Circle article on How to access aged care services – with an ACAT assessment –
See Me Aged Care Navigators – experts in navigating the home care space to make sure your loved one gets the optimal service and support tailored to their needs –
Coral’s article on Carer’s Circle about having a conversation with your parents about their needs – Conversations about coping https://carerscircle.com.au/2021/08/11/conversation-about-coping/
My Aged Care government website on CHSP –
My Aged Care government website on HCP –
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