Five Steps to entry into an aged care facility

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The following article is an abridged version of a booklet for consumers produced by the Australian Government Department of Social Services My Aged Care programCLICK HERE to read the full booklet

Moving into an aged care home may often be a difficult and emotional decision. It can be a decision made in a time of stress and high emotion. Many times it comes with a longing for the past and a fear of the future. It can be a challenging and emotional decision for the person moving as well as their family, friends and carers.

Understanding the process for moving into an aged care home is importance for older people, families and carers.  The five steps of the process are:

  1. Assessing eligibility
  2. Finding an aged care home
  3. Fees and charges
  4. Applying to an aged care home
  5. Living in an aged care home.

Information is current from 1 July 2014.

Step 1    Are you Eligible?

If you are considering moving into an aged care home, you will first need an assessment with a member of an Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT, or ACAS in Victoria). A member of an ACAT will talk to you about your current situation and help you work out what your options are.

It is important to know that your needs will always be listened to and considered, and you do not need to make any decisions about your future during your assessment.

You are also welcome to have someone else—perhaps a friend, family member or your carer—accompany you for extra support.

What does an ACAT do?

An ACAT can, with your consent:

  • assess eligibility for entry into an aged care home
  • give you information about aged care homes and home care services in your area
  • help you access the care you require
  • help you arrange residential respite care if this is what you require
  • assess your eligibility for home care to help you continue living at home or refer you to other services that will help you to continue living at home.

How do you find a local ACAT?

ACATs cover all of Australia and are based in hospitals or in the local community. To find your local ACAT or for more information about ACAT assessments, call 1800 200 422 or visit myagedcare.gov.au.

Does the assessment cost anything?

ACAT assessments are funded by the Australian Government to provide free assessments to determine eligibility for Australian Government subsidised aged care services.

What happens at an ACAT assessment?

A member of your local ACAT (usually a doctor, nurse, social worker or other health care professional) will make a time to come to your home (or the hospital, if you’re currently in hospital) and talk to you about how well you are managing day-to-day. The ACAT will explain the assessment process and let you know how your personal information will be protected.

After the ACAT assessment

Once you have completed the ACAT assessment, you will receive a letter to let you know if you have been approved as eligible for Australian Government subsidised aged care services. Your letter will tell you what type of services you are eligible for and approved to receive, as well as the reasons why.

You should keep a copy of your letter because you will need to show this record to organisations to confirm that you are eligible to receive Australian Government subsidised aged care services.

Step 2    Finding an aged care home

The best way to find a place that suits you is to visit a few different homes. Each home is different, so visiting them will help you to find out what you can expect. You’ll also be able to see what the accommodation is like, and what types of care, services and activities they offer.

Use the My Aged Care Aged Care Homes Finder to look for homes in the area you would like to live and contact them to arrange a time to visit. You can get more information on the Aged Care Homes Finder by calling 1800 200 422* or visiting myagedcare.gov.au.

My Aged Care is a website and contact centre, set up by the Australian Government to help you navigate the aged care system.

Through My Aged Care, you can find out what you need to know to start planning and talking about aged care with your family and loved ones.

My Aged Care can help you with:

  • locating services in your area
  • up-to-date information on aged care
  • finding your way through the My Aged Care website
  • referrals to assessment services
  • information about carer support services
  • estimating the fees you may be required to pay
  • obtaining copies of publications such as this one.

Step 3    What do you need to pay

The Australian Government pays for the bulk of aged care in Australia. But, as with all aged care services, it is expected you will contribute to the cost of your care if you can afford to do so. You will never be denied the care you need because you can’t afford it.

When moving into an aged care home you may be asked to pay towards your care, accommodation and daily living costs.

How much you pay depends on your financial situation. There are strong protections in place to make sure that care is affordable for everyone. The Australian Government sets the maximum fees for care and daily living expenses, and there are also rules about how much you can be asked to pay for your accommodation.

If you are required to pay an accommodation contribution or an accommodation payment, you will have 28 days from the day you entered an aged care home to decide on your payment method. You can choose to pay your accommodation costs by a lump-sum, rental-type payments, or a combination of both.

What you will pay will, be set out in a Resident Agreement between you and your aged care provider?

Step 4:  How do you apply for an aged care home?

You can apply to as many homes as you like. When a place becomes available, the aged care home will contact you or your nominated contact person.

After accepting a place, make sure you let the other aged care homes know that you have found somewhere you like, to ensure that they no longer need to keep your application open.

Filling in an application form

You will need to apply to any aged care homes you are interested in. Some homes will have their own application process and may ask you to fill in their forms.

Talk to the homes and find out what process they have and what information they will need.

For assistance on how to apply for an aged care home, call My Aged Care on 1800 200 422 or visit myagedcare.gov.au.

Do I need to provide personal information?

Yes. This way, your future aged care home can understand your specific care needs if a place becomes available.

Do I need to provide financial information to the aged care home?

You do not need to provide any financial information to the aged care home. However, to apply to have your fees and charges subsidised by the Australian Government you will need to fill out the Permanent Residential Aged Care – Request for a Combined Assets and Income Assessment form (SA457) and submit it to Centrelink or the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) (this only applies if you are receiving an income support payment through DVA).

Step 5:  What is it like to live in an aged care home?

Each aged care home is different. There will be new routines, new surroundings and new people all living together under one roof. You may have help with many of the day-to-day tasks that you’ve been used to doing for yourself, and there will be plenty of social activities going on in your new home.

You’ll get to decide what you want to do each day and have control over your personal matters. Staff at the home will respect your privacy, and your friends and family will be able to visit at any time. And as long as your health allows, you’ll be able to go on holidays, visit friends and come and go as you wish.