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 Commonwealth, 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 booklet, Five steps to entry into an aged care home, guides older people, families and carers to understand the process for moving into a residential aged care facility.
You can also call My Aged Care on 1800 200 422 for further information about residential aged care and ACATs.
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(ers), 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, as follows:
- Basic Daily Fee
- Means Tested Care Fee, or
- 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.
As of July 2014, the means test assessments for aged care includes both income and assets. Both DVA and Department of Human Services (DHS) conduct aged care income and assets assessments to determine how much subsidy the Commonwealth 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:
- Veterans, their partners and war widows(ers) in receipt of one of the following DVA income support pensions
- service pension
- income support supplement, or
- age pension administered by DVA
- Veterans in receipt of DVA disability pension and who have qualifying service, and
- War widows(ers) in receipt of DVA war widows(ers) pension and income support supplement.
The DHS is responsible for completing the aged care means test assessments for all other DVA clients (for example, veterans who do not have qualifying service or war widows(ers) not paid an income support pension by DVA).
In order to ensure the income and asset data DVA includes in your assessment is up to date, you will need to provide an update of your details by completing the DHS form: SA457 – Residential Aged Care Calculation of your cost of care or it may be provided to you by the ACAT officer.
Once DVA completes your means test assessment, the information is provided to the DHS 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.
It is important to be aware that unless you have had your qualifying service determined and accepted by DVA, then your disability 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, contact DVA on 1800 VETERAN (1800 838 372).
If you receive a war widows(ers) pension, this will be included as income in your aged care means test assessment.
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 submit a completed DHS form: SA457 — Residential Aged Care Calculation of your cost of care but if you choose not to do so, you may be asked to pay the maximum fees.
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.
*A carer's allowance is not an income support payment.
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.
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 can be used to look for facilities in the area you 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 in the following:
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 Aged Care Service Finder.
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.
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 and war widows(ers) 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 and war widows(ers) in residential aged care facilities with any questions or concerns about the provision of DVA services are encouraged to call DVA on 1800 VETERAN (1800 838 372).
Veterans, war widow(er)s, 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(er)s, 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 Social Support and Activities or call the My Aged Care national contact centre on 1800 200 422.