The fact of life is that at some point in time a person will need to be cared for.
One of the options is to move in to residential aged care. The following are 5 steps to make the transition smoother.
1. Get a person eligibility assessed
Before a person can enter an aged care facility and receive Government support, their health situation must be assessed by the Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT). The assessors are generally health professionals such as doctors, nurses and social workers who specialise in aged care.
This is a free service that can be done at home or in a health centre or hospital. The purpose is to determine whether they are eligible to move into residential care, or can access a range of care services that would enable them to stay in your home longer.
More information about ACAT assessments can be found on the Australian Government’s My Aged Care website: http://www.myagedcare.gov.au/eligibility-and-assessment/acat-assessments
2. Find a suitable facility
Once ACAT has determined whether a person is eligible for residential aged care and the care services they may need, it’s a good idea to visit a few facilities. The My Aged Care website has a ‘Find a Service’ tool that enables a person to locate and contact aged care homes in your preferred area.
Each facility is different, so visiting a few will help a person to decide which one is the most suitable for them. Not all aged care homes will be able to meet their care needs. Also, some provide higher standards of accommodation and broader food choices, which generally come at a higher cost. These are called ‘extra services’ facilities.
3. Work out the cost
While the Australian Federal Government provides some funding for residential aged care facilities, those who can afford it are expected to contribute to the cost of their care. The four different fees a person may be asked to pay include:
- an accommodation payment – for a person’s accommodation in the aged care facility, which may be paid as either a lump sum, regular instalments or a combination of lump sum and instalments
- a basic daily fee – which will usually be payable by all residents and is a contribution towards daily living costs, such as nursing, personal care and meals
- a means-tested care fee – which is an additional contribution towards the cost of care that a person may need to pay depending on the assessment of their income and assets, and
- an extra services fee – which may be payable if a person chooses a higher standard of accommodation or additional services and it varies from place to place.
4. Seek advice
Moving into residential aged care can be a financially challenging time. However, obtaining financial advice can help reduce a lot of the stress by helping a person to:
- determine which fees may be payable
- implement strategies that could reduce a person’s care costs and/or increase social security entitlements, and
- ascertain whether care at a person’s preferred facility(s) is affordable for them.
In conjunction with a person’s solicitor or other legal professional, a financial adviser can also help a person to ensure their estate planning affairs are addressed. Issues that may need to be considered include the:
- selling, renting, retaining or transferring ownership of a person’s family home
- nominating a person to maintain and/or rent their home on a person’s behalf
- reviewing your enduring power of attorney
- reviewing a person’s Will (including the benefits of including provisions in their Will that establish a Testamentary Trust upon a person’s death), and
- reviewing a person’s superannuation death benefit nominations.
5. Apply for an aged care home
Once a person has decided the type of care they want and can afford, and their estate planning affairs have been taken care of, it’s time to apply with an aged care home. To do this, a person will need to complete an application form with the relevant aged care home of their choice.
A person may find that a place in their preferred aged care facility is not available. In case that happens, it may be a good idea to lodge an application with a few places and ask to go on the ‘waitlist’. A person can apply to as many places as they’d like and the facility will let them know if their application has been accepted.
If a person is offered a place, they must be given a copy of the Accommodation Agreement before they move in. This agreement sets out the key terms and conditions and it should be reviewed by a legal professional. A person must sign the agreement and decide how they will make the accommodation payment within 28 days of entering the facility
The Department of Human Services (DHS) may also ask a person to complete and lodge a ‘Request for Combined Assets and Income Assessment’. DHS will then use the information to determine what, if any, means-tested care fees a person may need to pay.
How can we help
The cost of a residential aged care service can be complex and involved. We can simplify this matter for you.
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Disclaimer and Warning
The information above is of a general nature only. It should not be used as a source to make financial decisions. It’s also important to note that the legislation and figures related to this topic tend to change regularly and therefore the information above may not reflect the current status. We recommend that if you are looking for advice on this matter, you should contact us.