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The aged care cheat sheet: HCP, STRC and CHSP programs explained

The aged care process can be confusing, which is why we have put together a comprehensive aged care cheat sheet, with information on the three major programs – Home Care Packages, Commonwealth Home Support Program, and Short Term Restorative Care.

If you are looking into home care services and programs for yourself or a loved one, it can be time-consuming and confusing trying to understand how one program differs from another.

In particular, the Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHSP), Home Care Package (HCP) and Short Term Restorative Care (STRC) can appear very similar at a glance.

Let’s break it down in simple terms so that the differences are crystal clear.


Aged care programs fall into one of the following categories:

There are also other programs within these categories, such as Veterans Services, the Transitional Care Program and more. We’ll talk about those later.


Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHSP)

This program is designed to assist those who are having trouble doing everyday activities without help, and who need low care support to remain living independently in the community.

Home Care Package (HCP)

These packages provide a greater level of support than the Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHSP). Home Care Packages offer regular assistance to help you stay healthy, active, connected and living in your own home.

What’s the same?

  • Both programs (as well as Short Term Restorative Care) require you to register with My Aged Care, complete a free assessment, and have your funding eligibility determined to access services.
  • Both programs are carried out in your home. You are not eligible if you are in residential aged care.
  • Both programs include services such as personal care, domestic assistance, meal preparation, transport, social transport, exercise and mobility programs, minor home modifications, allied health services, nursing services, remote nursing support, home and garden maintenance, technology home solutions, and respite services.

What’s different?

  • Who conducts the assessment: A CHSP is assessed by your local Regional Assessment Service (RAS). HCPs are assessed by your local Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT).
  • Who picks the services provided: A HCP is driven by you – you decide which services you need and how your funds are spent.
  • Levels of support: A CHSP offers entry-level support only. In contrast, a HCP offers more complex and comprehensive support options, ranging from Level 1 to Level 4 depending on how much care is needed. For example, Level 1 is suitable for those with basic care needs, whereas Level 4 is for those with high care needs.
  • Funds provided: Being a lower-level program, a CHSP entitles you to a maximum of $8k per annum with the average person receiving $2.6k p.a. As HCPs are more comprehensive and offer different package levels, you are entitled to between $9k and $51k, with the average person receiving $19k per annum.
  • Income assessment – yay or nay: An income assessment is not required for a CHSP, however to qualify for a HCP, you may need to contribute financially if your income is over a certain amount.
  • Costs: CHSP fees are negotiated with the individual service providers. HCPs, on the other hand, have two types of fees that may apply: a basic daily fee, and an income tested care fee (again, only if your income is over a certain amount).


Short Term Restorative Care (STRC)

This is a temporary eight-week program designed to help you recover from an injury or illness. It aims to improve your wellbeing and help you remain independent.

Services may include (but are not limited to): personal care, domestic assistance, meal preparation, transport, exercise and mobility programs, home modification assessments, home and garden maintenance, occupational therapy, psychology and counselling, podiatry, nursing services, and technology home solutions.

How is it different to a CHSP and a HCP?

  • It isn’t an ongoing program. Services are time-limited to eight-weeks.
  • It doesn’t have to be delivered at home. If you are staying short term in residential aged care, you are also eligible.
  • The costs are different. The basic care fee is calculated at 17.5% of the single basic aged pension rate. Your Short Term Restorative Care provider can discuss this with you if you think you cannot afford it.
    • Please note: While the government subsidises Short Term Restorative Care, you’ll be expected to contribute to the cost of your care if you can afford it.

So as you can see, there are some key differences between the three programs, with suitability dependant on individual circumstances and support needs.

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