It is easy to get confused about services. There are national, state and local services which may be private or public. There are services for the person with dementia (e.g. reablement or rehabilitation services) and for carers (e.g. respite services). Even more confusing is that there is overlap in the services different groups provide. The systems don’t always link to each other, and professionals within the different systems sometimes don’t understand the other systems very well.
There are five key types of services. We’ll break these down to help you get an idea of what is available:
- These are GPs, public and private medical specialists, hospital clinics and nursing services.
- They offer diagnostic, treatment, and referral services.
- They are often your best source to start with for referral to other services e.g. allied health. GP practice nurses often have great knowledge of a range of services that may suit your needs in your area.
Allied health services
- Allied health are a broad range of health professionals including psychologists, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, speech pathologists, social workers, dietitians, exercise physiologists and podiatrists.
- They offer reablement and rehabilitation services, as well as assessment and advice for particular problems that interfere with daily life and function.
- You can make appointments directly with private allied health professionals or get a referral from your GP.
- You may be able to get subsidies for allied health services through your private health insurance or a GP Chronic Disease Management Plan for a limited number of sessions. A GP Mental Health Plan may also provide subsidy for limited sessions with a psychologist. There are programs to assist with the cost of necessary home modifications when prescribed by an occupational therapist.
Home and community services
- These refer to services that offer support for home cleaning, gardening, meals, shopping, transport, personal care services, and may include specialist nursing support. Some offer information groups, recreational activities and respite for carers. Some offer home modifications.
- There are private services you can pay for, or government subsidised programs.
- Government subsidised services in your home and community are mostly widely known as Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHSP) and Home Care Packages. An assessment is required to access these programs. You can read more in the page 5.6 Getting services; My Aged Care.
Dementia information and support services
There are several national and state organisations that provide information, education, direct support, or links to get support. These include:
- Dementia Australia. The largest dementia specific support and advocacy organisation in Australia. Dementia Australia provides a dementia helpline (1800 100 500), post-diagnostic counselling, support groups and other services.
- Carers Australia. You can find a link here to each state and territory Carers’ organisation which in turn has links to programs and services offered especially for carers.
- Alzheimer’s WA is a state-based association providing information, services and support.
- Dementia Support Australia is a national, free 24/7 telephone service (1800 699 799) to provide support for people with dementia where changed behaviours are impacting their lives or the lives of their carer.
- There are a range of other dementia support, information, navigation and advisory services available through health and aged care services across Australia, including culturally specific services. As these vary from place to place, information can be found through My Aged Care (1800 200 422).
- Respite simply means taking a break. Throughout this website we emphasise that planning and taking regular breaks is one of the most important things you can do to enable you to keep supporting the person with dementia and care for yourself.
- The Carer Gateway is a phone and web service that can link you up with different types of respite in your area (1800 422 737).
- If the person you support is 65 years old or over, My Aged Care (1800 200 422) can arrange community or residential respite. You can read more on the next page 5.6 Getting services; My Aged Care.
Financial support for carers
- The Australian Government provides a number of options for financial support for carers, including carer payment, carer allowance, carer supplement and carer adjustment payment. Each have specific rules that you must meet e.g. a carer payment is subject to an income and assets test and is available to an Australian resident caring for a person who is also an Australian resident. A carer allowance is subject to an income test (no assets test). The Australian Senior magazine provides a summary of current financial support, eligibility and the process for applying.
- In addition don’t forget to apply for Seniors cards that may help with concessions on government services , like transport, and savings on other goods and services with participating business.
Consider service options
Consider some of these services options and discuss with the person you support about using services. You or the person you support may wish to discuss these services with a GP or specialist.