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Residential Aged Care

Residential aged care is administered by the Department of Health and is for older people who can no longer live at home, or who no longer wish to live at home. Services provided as part of residential aged care range from assistance with tasks of daily living and personal care to complex nursing care.  

The first step in moving into a residential aged care facility that is subsidised by the Australian Government, is to call My Aged Care on 1800 200 422 to arrange a free assessment with an Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT, or ACAS in Victoria).  An ACAT usually includes a nurse, social worker or other health professionals, who assess people’s eligibility to receive care. If people need planned or emergency residential respite care, or a Home Care Package, the ACAT will also assess eligibility for this.

If you are not eligible to go into a residential aged care facility, an ACAT may be able to suggest other options so you can receive the care you need. For example, you may be eligible to receive some help at home.

The Australian Government has a publication to help older people, families and carers understand the process for moving into a residential aged care facility.  The 'Five steps to entry into an aged care home' booklet outlines five steps to follow and what to do at each step.

You can also call My Aged Care on 1800 200 422 for further information about residential aged care and ACATs.

Cost of residential aged care

The Commonwealth Government pays a Commonwealth subsidy and, if required, supplements, for each resident in a residential aged care facility.  All residents, including veterans and war widows, are also required to make a contribution towards the cost of their residential aged care based on their income and assets.  Please note that special financial arrangements are in place for former Prisoners of War (POW) and Victoria Cross (VC) recipients, these are listed in the section titled DVA assistance to veterans in residential aged care

What people pay in residential aged care will be set out in a Resident Agreement with their aged care provider. There are annual and lifetime caps in place to limit the amount of the Means Tested Care Fee that people will need to pay.

There are three fee types that people may be asked to pay, depending on their income and assets are:

  • Basic Daily Fee;
  • Means Tested Care Fee; and
  • Accommodation Payment (Refundable Accommodation Deposit, Daily Accommodation Payment, or mixture of both).

Residents may also choose to pay an additional fee for extra or optional services.

Residential aged care means test assessments

As of July 2014, the means test assessments for aged care includes both income and assets.  Both DVA and Centrelink conduct aged care income and assets assessments to determine how much subsidy the Government pays to the aged care provider on people’s behalf (if you are eligible for government assistance) and whether you can be asked to contribute towards your aged care costs. 

DVA is responsible for completing the aged care means test assessments for the following eligible members of the veteran and war widow(er) community:

  • Veterans, their partners and war widow(er)s in receipt of one of the following income support pensions - Service Pension, Income Support Supplement or Age Pension administered by DVA;
  • Veterans, and partners of veterans, in receipt of DVA Disability Pension and who have Qualifying Service (QS); and
  • War widow(er)s in receipt of the War Widows Pension and who have QS.

The DHS is responsible for completing the aged care means test assessments for all other DVA clients (eg. Veterans or war widow(er)s who do not have QS or are not paid an income support pension by DVA).

In order to ensure the income and asset data DVA includes in your assessment is current, you will need to provide an update of your details by completing a SA457 – Permanent Residential Aged Care Request for a Combined Income and Assets Assessment form, which is available from the DHS website, or may be provided to you by the ACAT officer.

Once DVA completes your means test assessment, the information is provided to the Department of Human Services which will complete the applicable aged care fee calculations.  DHS will then send you, your nominee and aged care provider letters advising the applicable aged care fees payable.

Assessment of DVA Disability and War Widow(er)s pensions as income

It is important to be aware that unless you have had your Qualifying Service determined and accepted by DVA, then your Disability pension and/or War Widow(er)s pension will be included as income in your aged care means test assessment.

If you are unsure of whether you have previously had your Qualifying Service determined, please contact DVA on 133 254.

For further information regarding Qualifying Service and how to submit an application to determine your QS refer to the following DVA factsheets:

If you are a member of a couple, half of the combined income and assets owned by you or your partner are taken into account for the assessment.

It isn’t compulsory to have a means test but if you do not have one you may be asked to pay the maximum fees.

Assessment of your former home as an asset for aged care purposes

Your home will be counted as an asset for aged care purposes, up to a capped amount, unless it is occupied by a protected person including:

  • a partner; or
  • a dependent child; or
  • a close relative, who at the time of your entry into care, was eligible to receive an income support payment* from Centrelink or DVA and had lived with you in the home for the past five years; or
  • a carer, who at the time of your entry into care, was eligible to receive an income support payment* from Centrelink or DVA and had lived with you in the home for the past two years.

*Note: A Carer’s Allowance is not an income support payment.

Please note:  If you change your address (either by moving to or within a residential aged care facility, move into respite care or another care institution) you will need to tell DVA within 14 days (28 days if you live overseas or receive remote area allowance) about changes to your residential circumstances as they might affect the rate of your pension.

Further information on costs

For more information on residential aged care fees and charges, please visit the My Aged Care website.

You can also use the Residential Aged Care Fee Estimator at My Aged Care.  For further information, contact My Aged Care on 1800 200 422.

Further information is also available from the DVA Factsheet HSV05 - Moving Into Residential Aged Care.

Choosing a residential aged care facility

The best way to find a residential aged care facility is to visit a few different places.  Visiting different facilities will let you see what the accommodation is like, and what types of care, services and activities the facility offers.   The My Aged Care Aged Care Service Finder on the My Aged Care website can be used to look for facilities in the area they would like to live and contact them to arrange a time to visit.  Alternatively, contact My Aged Care on 1800 200 422.

Residential aged care facilities 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.

The process for accessing Residential Aged Care is detailed below:

Call My Aged Care for an assessment, select the aged care you want, complete a means test assessment, as well as an application and/or agreement for your chosen home, then move in

To arrange an ACAT you need to call My Aged Care contact centre on 1800 200 422.

To find a residential aged care facility you can use the My Aged Care Find a Service tool.

For more information on any of these, or more, mainstream services delivered by Department of Health:

  • Review information on My Aged Care;
  • Contact the My Aged Care national call centre to discuss your needs on 1800 200 422;
  • Talk to your existing service provider/s about aged care services (if you have one); or
  • Talk to your GP.

DVA assistance to veterans in residential aged care

All Australians, including veterans and war widows/ers, must contribute towards the cost of their aged care, where they can.  However, the following entitlements may be available to DVA clients in residential aged care:

  • DVA pays former Prisoner of War (POW) and Victoria Cross (VC) Recipients’ Basic Daily Fee;
  • Former POWs and VC recipients are also exempt from paying a Means Tested Care Fee; 
  • Veterans with lower level residential care needs, as identified by their Aged Care Funding Instrument (ACFI) score, are able, based on clinical need and a referral from an authorised referral source, to access a range of allied health services and aids and appliances through DVA arrangements;
  • DVA may pay a contribution towards the cost of transport, meals and accommodation to eligible veterans or war widows/ers who are living in an aged care facility and are required to travel to attend DVA approved medical appointments. 

For veterans and war widows/ers who have been identified as having a greater level of care by their ACFI score, the facility is responsible for meeting their allied health care and aids and appliance needs.  DVA will not duplicate funding for the care and services that residential aged care facilities receive Commonwealth funding to provide except in exceptional circumstances and with prior approval from DVA.  However, if a veteran or war widow/er moves from receiving a lower level of care to a greater level of care within a residential aged care facility, aids and appliances previously provided may be kept by them if approved by the residential aged care facility.  DVA will maintain responsibility for the repair, maintenance and replacement of these items.  

Veterans in residential aged care facilities with any questions or concerns about the provision of DVA services are encouraged to contact DVA, through the DVA general enquiries line (Metropolitan: 133 254 or regional: 1800 555 254).

or regional: 1800 555 254). 

Staying connected to the community after moving into residential aged care

Veterans, war widow/ers, or members of the veteran community may be able to invite representatives from ex-service organisations (ESOs) to visit them in their residential aged care facility.  Out of respect for aged care resident’s privacy, the aged care facility won’t provide resident’s details to ESOs, however, if veterans, war widow/ers, or members of the veteran community wish for someone from an ESO to visit, they or their family can contact the local branch of the appropriate organisation to make the necessary arrangements.  The aged care facility staff may also be able to help get in touch with ESOs.

The residential aged care facility can also arrange a visit through the Community Visitor Scheme (CVS) for residents who are feeling alone and do not benefit from regular contact with family or friends.  The CVS provides visits from volunteers to recipients of Commonwealth Government subsidised aged care services, which includes residential aged care and Home Care packages. In each state and territory, CVS organisations have coordinators who will match people with a companion or link them with a group in their residential aged care facility. A CVS coordinator will take into account people’s interests, hobbies and background in finding a suitable regular visitor.

To find out how to get in contact with a CVS organisation, contact the CVS Network Member in your state or territory or visit the Social Support and Activities page of the My Aged Care website or call the My Aged Care national contact centre on 1800 200 422.

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