If you or a family member can no longer manage to live independently at home,
you may need to consider moving into residential aged care. Before you do, there are
many factors to consider, including your eligibility, the costs involved and the effect on
your finances and lifestyle.
What are the different levels of residential aged care?
There are two levels of permanent aged care homes:
- Low level residential care (or hostels) provide accommodation and personal care, such as help with dressing and showering, as well as occasional nursing care.
- High level residential care (or nursing homes) provide care for people with a greater degree of frailty, who often need continuous (24 hour) nursing care.
What care and services are provided?
All aged care homes must provide a specified range of care and services to residents, according to their individual needs.
These services include:
- appropriate staffing to meet the nursing and personal needs of residents
- assistance with daily living activities such as bathing, showering and dressing
- assistance with medications
- basic furnishings
- laundry and cleaning services
- maintenance of buildings and grounds
- social activities.
For residents with high level care needs, the services will also include the provision of special medical equipment, such as wheelchairs, basic medical and pharmaceutical supplies, and
nursing and therapy services. While some aged care homes specialise in either low level or high level care, many offer both so that residents can stay in one location even if their care
Entering residential aged care
Before a person enters residential aged care, they must be assessed and approved by the Government’s Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT). ACAT helps older people and those
who care for them decide what kind of care will best meet their needs when they can no longer manage on their own.
ACAT is made up of a range of health care professionals, including doctors, nurses and social workers. ACAT thoroughly assesses a person’s situation and care needs, provides information on
suitable care options and can help arrange access or referrals to residential or community care in the local area.
You can arrange an appointment with the ACAT closest to you by calling the Commonwealth Carelink Centres on 1800 052 222. Alternatively your doctor can make an appointment with the
ACAT in your area.
How much does residential aged care cost?
While the Australian Government provides funding to residential aged care homes to assist with the costs associated with providing care, most residents will also have to pay certain fees and charges.
The amount you will need to pay depends on your income and assets. Hardship provisions exist for residents who find it difficult to pay for their care.
If you have already had your assets and income assessed by Centrelink and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) to receive the Age Pension or Service Pension, this same information will be used to determine your ability to pay for the cost of residential aged care.
There are two types of costs associated with residential
- entry fees, which include:
- accommodation bonds (for low level care and extra services)
- accommodation charges (for high level care)
2. ongoing fees for both low and high level care, which include:
- basic daily care fees
- income tested fees
- extra service fees (if applicable).
There can be a lot of bureaucracy involved in the process and Wealthwise’s Age Care specialists can help guide you through all the red tape.