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Factsheet HSV05 - Moving into Residential Aged Care


This Factsheet provides information about how to access Commonwealth Government subsidised residential aged care.

The Department of Health is responsible for the administration of the Aged Care Act 1997 for all Australians, including veterans and war widow/ers. The Aged Care Act 1997 also covers residential aged care.

What is a residential aged care home?

Residential aged care homes provide care and support to older people who can no longer live independently in their home.  Many residential aged care homes receive subsidies from the Commonwealth Government to assist in providing appropriate care and support to older people. These homes are required to meet a set of standards set by the Commonwealth Government in regards to care, lifestyle, safety and building conditions. Residential aged care homes that do not attract Commonwealth Government subsidies may be subject to different arrangements.

How do I get access to a residential aged care home?

To access a residential aged care home, you will need to contact My Aged Care to register and be screened for aged care services. My Aged Care contact centre staff will conduct screening by asking a series of questions over the phone to understand your needs to determine the appropriate assessment pathway (home support or comprehensive). 

An Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT), known as Aged Care Assessment Service (ACAS) in Victoria, will then conduct a face-to-face comprehensive assessment to help identify what care you need based on your personal situation. Other programs they can assess you for include:

  • Transition Care (directly following an acute episode in hospital);
  • Short-Term Restorative Care (STRC) (an early intervention programme that aims to reverse and/or slow ‘functional decline’ in older people);
  • Home Care Packages (assistance to remain at home); and
  • Residential Respite care (short stays in an residential aged care home to allow the carer a break).

The assessment is an opportunity to identify options and you can make a decision once you have received the outcome of your assessment. You are also welcome to have someone else – perhaps a friend, family member, independent aged care advocate or your carer – attend your assessment with you for extra support.  

Your doctor or nurse can refer you for an ACAT or ACAS assessment, or you may refer yourself through My Aged Care. These assessments are Australian Government funded and free of charge.

How do I find the right aged care home?

While an ACAT or ACAS assessment will not endorse or rate individual aged care homes, they can help you find a home that you will feel comfortable in and that will meet your needs. You could also ask your doctor, family, friends and others who know people currently living in an aged care home.

To look for an aged care home in your area, visit the Find a Service (Aged care homes) page of the My Aged Care website at

If you are in hospital awaiting transfer to an aged care home, there is usually a social worker allocated to assist you with this process.

Can I try an aged care home before deciding on permanent care?

No, but you can arrange to visit a number of aged care homes to see which one you like. There are a wide variety of aged care homes that provide different environments and offer residents diverse activities. You can use the Aged Care Placement Checklist when you are visiting an aged care home. It is available on the Aged Care Placement Checklist page of the Residential Aged Care Placement service website at

Respite care is another way of getting to know an aged care home before accepting permanent care. You will need approval from an ACAT or ACAS to access respite care in an aged care home.

When will I be offered an aged care home place?

Once you have an ACAT or ACAS assessment and have chosen your preferred aged care home, if a place is not currently available you can ask to be placed on a waiting list. You may need to verify your identity before being considered for a vacancy. You should contact the aged care home from time to time to remind them of your interest.

Places are offered on the basis of need, care requirements, time on the waiting list and suitability. When a vacancy occurs, the aged care home will contact you directly, or you will be informed by the hospital social worker if you are in hospital. You may be asked to make a decision within hours because the aged care homes like to maintain full occupancy.

Do I have to pay fees before I move into an aged care home?

No, aged care homes cannot request application fees, donations or administrative fees before a person enters residential aged care. If you are asked to provide some form of payment before entering an aged care home you can contact the Aged Care Complaints Scheme on (free call) 1800 550 552.

What happens if there are no vacancies at my preferred aged care home?

You may need to accept a place in an aged care home that is not one of your preferred choices. If this occurs, you can continue to maintain contact with your preferred aged care home so that they are aware of your continued interest. If they later offer you a vacancy you may be able to arrange a transfer. However, once you accept a place in an aged care home your priority status and needs change and your position on the waiting list of your preferred aged care home is likely to be lowered.

How much does an aged care home cost?

Aged care costs vary depending on a person’s income and assets. On 1 July 2014, there were changes to the calculation of the subsidy and accommodation payments. These changes were part of reforms to the aged care system to make it more sustainable and affordable. The Commonwealth Government is the major funder of care for most recipients and will ensure that no one is denied access to care because of an inability to pay. Some fees are the same for everyone, and some are based on your care needs, income and assets.

There are four fees types you may be asked to pay based on income and assets:

  • Basic Daily Fees;
  • Means Tested Care Fees;
  • Accommodation Payments (Refundable Accommodation Deposit, Daily Accommodation Payment, or mixture of both); and
  • a fee for extra or additional optional services.

The Residential Care fee estimator can help you estimate what costs your aged care home may ask you to pay. You can access the Residential Care Fee Estimator by visiting the Residential Care Fee Estimator page of the My Aged Care website at

The The Fees for Home Care Packages and Residential Aged Care for People Entering Care from 1 July 2014 information booklet provides more details on aged care home costs. You can access this booklet by visiting the DOH website at

You may want to consult with a financial adviser about your finances. There are various government services and resources that can help you obtain appropriate financial advice. It's a good idea to do some research to see what options work best for you.

If you believe you will face financial hardship in paying your aged care costs, you can ask to be considered for financial hardship assistance.

What ‘Special Needs’ status do I have as a Veteran?

In 2001, veterans were assigned ‘Special Needs’ status under the Aged Care Act 1997. This requires aged care providers to consider the needs of the veteran community in the provision of care. It also requires planning authorities to consider the aged care requirements of the ex-service community in determining the numbers of Home Care Packages and places in aged care homes.

‘Special Needs’ status was assigned to veterans as a result of their wartime experience impacting on their journey through life. This impact may have resulted in complex medical requirements that include the need for high levels of emotional and cultural specific support in old age.

The ‘Special Needs’ status for veterans does not provide priority access or any advantage over other members of the Australian community when a place becomes vacant in an aged care home.

What assistance does DVA provide to former Prisoners of War and Victoria Cross recipients in an aged care home?

DVA will pay the Basic Daily Fee and Means Tested Care Fee for former Prisoners of War and Victoria Cross recipients. For more information, please see HSV10 Financial Support for Former Prisoners of War and Victoria Cross Recipients Accessing Aged Care Services.

What assistance does DVA provide to Gold or White Card holders in a residential aged care home?

If you have a Gold or White Card and live in residential aged care, you may continue to access many of the same services that you were entitled to prior to entering residential aged care (for example travel for treatment and medical services). This may depend on the care classification that you are classified as requiring in residential aged care.

There are limits to services that can be provided to you in an aged care home if you are classified as requiring a greater level of care.

Allied health services and aids and appliances should be provided to you by the residential aged care home. Therefore they should not be accessed under DVA Health Card arrangements, except in exceptional circumstances where DVA has given prior approval for this to occur.

If you are in an aged care home and do not meet the criteria outlined above, allied health services and rehabilitation aids and appliances can be accessed through DVA Health Card arrangements. If you have a DVA provided appliance you can take it with you if you are moved to a greater level of care, but seek approval from the residential aged care home first.

Does DVA provide assistance with transport so I can attend health appointments?

Yes, if you are aged 80 years or older and hold a Gold or White Card, DVA can assist with transport for any DVA funded medical or allied health care treatment. To arrange transport you, your carer, your health provider or the aged care home can contact DVA Transport on 1800 550 455*. DVA will arrange for a booked car with driver to pick you up (and your attendant if you clinically need one), take you to your medical appointment, and bring you back home. There is no need for you to pay the driver as DVA pays the transport provider directly. DVA does not provide transport assistance associated with your attendant getting to and from your aged care home, or transport assistance associated with a spouse or family member visiting you.

If you are under 80 years of age, a DVA booked car with driver is limited to travel for hospital and specialist appointments only. However, any travel expenses you incur to attend other medical appointments such as to your GP can be claimed back from DVA.

For more information please see Factsheets HSV02 Entitlements under the Repatriation Transport Scheme and HSV03 Transport Modes available under the Repatriation Transport Scheme.

What happens if I have a complaint or concern about my care?

The Aged Care Complaints Scheme is a free service that examines complaints or concerns about Australian Government subsidised aged care services, including:

  • Residential aged care homes;
  • Commonwealth Home Support  Programme (CHSP);
  • HACC (in Western Australia and Victoria) Note: In Victoria from 1 July 2016 the CHSP will replace the existing HACC program for new clients only; or
  • Home Care Packages.

Anyone can contact the Aged Care Complaints Scheme with a concern and complaints can be about anything that affects the quality of care for aged care recipients. However, the Aged Care Complaints Scheme encourages you to try to raise your concern with the service provider first as this can achieve a fast and sustainable outcome. If you are unable to resolve your concern with the service provider, you can contact the Aged Care Complaints Scheme on 1800 550 552, in writing or you can lodge a complaint online which will be received instantly. Complaints can be kept confidential and be made anonymously at your request.

Will I be able to have visits from local Ex-service organisations?

Yes, if you are a member of the veteran community it may be possible for representatives of ex-service organisations (ESOs) to visit you. Respect for your privacy prohibits your aged care home providing your contact details to an ESO, but arrangements for a visit can be made by contacting your local ESO. This is best done before you move into an aged care home.

Links to other relevant Commonwealth publications

The 5 steps to Entry into Residential Aged Care booklet helps you to understand more about aged care and contains the Charter of Residents’ Rights and Responsibilities. Copies are available by phoning My Aged Care on 1800 200 422* or by visiting the 5 steps to Entry into Residential Aged Care page of the My Aged Care website at

The I have a concern booklet is available by phoning the Aged Care Complaints Scheme on 1800 550 552 or by visiting the I have a concern resources page of the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner website at

An application for Respite Care or Permanent Entry to Aged Care Home is available by phoning My Aged Care on 1800 200 422* or by visiting the Application for Respite Care or Permanent Entry to Aged Care Home page of the DOH website at

More Information

DVA General Enquiries

Phone:1800 555 254 *


DVA Website:

Factsheet Website:

* Calls from mobile phones and pay phones may incur additional charges.

Related Factsheets


The information contained in this Factsheet is general in nature and does not take into account individual circumstances. You should not make important decisions, such as those that affect your financial or lifestyle position on the basis of information contained in this Factsheet. Where you are required to lodge a written claim for a benefit, you must take full responsibility for your decisions prior to the written claim being determined. You should seek confirmation in writing of any oral advice you receive from DVA.

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22 February 2017