At agedcare101, a question we often hear is ‘how can I access aged care services when I am struggling to find somewhere to live?’
For many older people, particularly women, living on low incomes, the housing market remains unaffordable – Anglicare’s 2018 Rental Affordability Snapshot found less than two per cent of available housing stock in Australia was suitable for a single person on the Age Pension.
But there is a free Government program designed to help older people with finding suitable housing.
The Assistance with Care and Housing (ACH) Sub-Programme is offered under the Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP) and is aimed at frail older people 65 years and over (or 50 years and over for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people), who are on a low income and who are homeless or at risk of homelessness because of housing stress or not having secure accommodation; and prematurely aged people who are 50 years and over (or 45 years and over for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people), who are on a low income and who are homeless or at risk of homelessness because of housing stress or not having secure accommodation.
Its services include helping to find suitable private or social housing options, providing transport to see properties and move, help with paperwork and access to loans and more.
68-year-old Gail Carter found support through not-for-profit provider Villa Maria Catholic Homes’ ACH Program, which had been supporting her terminally ill mother, after losing her job as an aged care assistant in 2015 and being diagnosed with depression.
Gail’s Case Manager Amy Yuen linked her with counselling services and carer support while she was caring for her mother. Within 18 months, Amy also found her a permanent home at the public housing units where her mother lived. Though Gail’s mother sadly passed away just before she moved in, Gail was happy to receive the news.
“I felt like I’d won the lotto – I was so grateful. I now feel secure for the future,” she says.
While you can register with the Government’s MyAgedCare website and undergo an ACAT assessment to apply for the ACH Program, many of the assessments for the ACH program are done through the Regional Assessment Service (RAS). You can also approach a service provider first who can help you to register with MyAgedCare and RAS and who will work with RAS to develop a support plan for you.
If your circumstances change or you need extra services, your provider can also then request a review through MyAgedCare.
With research showing the number of older women experiencing homelessness is up 31 per cent since 2011, it’s a valuable service.
You can find out more about the Program here and search for home care providers on agedcare101 here. To contact VMCH’s Program, call 1300 971 720.